The 2017 Modern Families Index

The 2017 Modern Families Index

How do other parents across the UK manage their work and family commitments? Is the UK at risk of creating a ‘fatherhood penalty'?  Our charity partner Working Families shares the top findings from their latest research into modern families .

The UK is running the risk of creating a ‘fatherhood penalty’ – as fathers consider stalling or side-lining their careers to find roles they can better combine with family life, according to a major new study from Working Families and Bright Horizons.

The 2017 Modern Families Index, published earlier this month, captures a broad picture – of fathers wanting to take an active part in childcare and of workplaces failing to adapt and support their aspirations.

Family is the highest priority for fathers. A quarter of fathers that took part in the study drop their children at school or nursery every day; with just over a quarter (26%) collecting them more than half the time.

Seven out of ten fathers work flexibly to fulfil their caring responsibilities. However, for half of the fathers we spoke to their work-life balance is increasingly a source of stress.  A third of fathers feel burnt out regularly and one in five fathers are doing extra hours in the evening or weekends all the time.

The study identifies workplace culture in the UK as a key problem. Fathers say they work extra hours because this is the only way to deal with their workload and that being seen to do long hours is important where they work. Tellingly, twice the number of fathers compared to mothers believe that flexible workers are viewed as less committed and that working flexibly will have a negative impact on their career.

For many fathers the workplace is unsupportive of their aspirations for a better work-life fit.  For nearly one fifth, their employer is, at best, unsympathetic about childcare, expecting no disruption to work. At worst fathers say they wouldn’t even tell their employer they had childcare problems – for fear of being viewed negatively. 44% of fathers have lied or bent the truth to their employer about family related responsibilities that ‘get in the way’ of work.

The Index found that seven out of ten fathers would consider their childcare needs before taking a new job or a promotion. Nearly half of working fathers (47%) want to downshift into a less stressful job because they can’t balance the demands of work and family life and over a third would be willing to take a pay cut to achieve a better work life balance.

Fathers are making the same considerations and face the same barriers to their career progression that mothers have faced for decades simply because they have become a parent.  Is the UK risking creating a ‘fatherhood penalty’?

Other findings from the Index include:

  • One in five parents working full time is putting in five extra weeks a year – the equivalent of their annual holiday allowance - in unpaid work, just to keep up with the demands of the job
  • Almost half (48%) said working hours regularly got in the way of spending time with their children and a third said that work had a negative effect on their relationship with their partner and a quarter said it led to rows with their children
  • Twice the number of fathers compared to mothers believe flexible workers are viewed as less committed and over double the number of fathers believe working flexibly will have a negative impact on their career
  • Only one in five families says they have got the right balance between time (to spend with family) and money (earning or having enough income) to see their family thrive, with over a third saying they haven’t got enough time or money

We’re calling for all jobs to be advertised as flexible as the norm rather than the exception, and for the introduction of a standalone period of properly paid paternity leave.

The report is available on our website. Keep in touch with our work via Twitter or Facebook.

Working Families is the UK’s leading work-life balance organisation which helps working parents and carers and their employers to find a better balance between responsibilities at home and work. 

Released On 26th Jan 2017

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Released On 10th Apr 2017


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