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MPs launch probe into fathers’ ‘stressful’ work-life balance

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

MPs have launched an inquiry into whether fathers are being failed in the workplace after new research revealed 50% find their work-life balance a source of stress.

A third of fathers feel burnt out regularly and one in five are doing extra hours in the evening or weekends, the report by charity Working Families found.

The study revealed 53% of millennial fathers want to downshift into a less stressful job because they can’t balance the demands of work and family life.

It also found 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.

Some 44% of fathers have lied or bent the truth to their employer about family related responsibilities that ‘get in the way’ of work.

Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families, said: “To prevent a ‘fatherhood penalty’ emerging in the UK – and to help tackle the motherhood penalty – employers need to ensure that work is designed in a way that helps women and men find a good work-life fit.  Making roles flexible by default and a healthy dose of realism when it comes to what can be done in the hours available are absolutely vital.

“A game-changing first step would be government creating a new, properly paid, extended period of paternity leave – sending a clear signal that government recognises the aspirations of modern fathers and is serious about tackling the motherhood penalty that blights the working lives of so many women.”

MPs on the Women and Equalities Committee are seeking views from companies and individuals about changes that could help fathers in the workplace.

The inquiry follows a report from the Committee published in March 2016, which found sharing care between fathers and mothers was key to reducing the gender pay gap, and that many fathers want to fulfil their caring responsibilities for their children.

Chair of the Committee, Maria Miller, said: “Many fathers want to take a more active role in caring for their children. Our report on the Gender Pay Gap found that investing in policies that support men to share childcare equally, and allow women to continue working, will reap financial benefits as well as reducing the gender pay gap.

“Supporting parents in the workplace is a priority for the Government. Yet it admits that its flagship Shared Parental Leave policy is likely to have a very low take-up rate.”

Shared Parental Leave was introduced in April 2015 and allows eligible partners to share up to 37 weeks’ pay and up to 50 weeks of leave (following the statutory two week’s maternity and paternity leave) with the child’s mother in the first year after a baby’s born.

However, the government predicted a take-up rate of just 2-8%.