Companies need to embrace flexible working for new dads

A new report has revealed that more dads than ever before (58 per cent) are now actively involved in day to day parenting and are looking for workplace flexibility, which is still not currently provided by the majority of UK employers.

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Commenting on the report Adrian Lewis, director at Activ People HR says that whilst it’s great news more new dads want to share the childcare, it’s disappointing that employers are not so keen to embrace changing attitudes and are failing to see the benefits of offering flexible working.

Adrian Lewis says,

Its clear progress is being made in society and childcare is no longer seen as just the domain of the mother, but employers appear to be slow in catching up. Those that want to recruit and retain the best people will need to rethink this, as it could mean losing out on talent to companies that have more progressive policies on flexible working.

The report highlighted that 63 per cent of new dads at work have requested a change in working patterns since becoming a father; however whether the requests are granted has been mixed.

Fourteen per cent of millennial dads have requested to work from home between 1-2 days per week, but less than 1 in 5 of those dads (19 percent) are granted it. And nearly 40 per cent of dads have requested a change in working hours, with 44 per cent of them being unsuccessful.

The report also showed that only 56 per cent of respondents believed that fathers were treated equally to mothers in their workplaces, and 45 per cent of working fathers regularly experienced tension from their employer when trying to balance work and family life demonstrating a growing disconnect between home and workplace.

Adrian adds,

Since the right to request flexible working after 26 weeks employment became law in 2014, it’s disappointing that many companies are still resistant. Often we find it’s because they don’t have the systems in place to be able to manage flexible working properly and ensure it’s business as usual.

To operate flexible working effectively it’s essential companies have the right IT systems to keep track of where people are, who is working, who is not and where they will be working. This visibility is crucial so that the normal working day runs smoothly, clients or customers are not inconvenienced and there isn’t a dip in productivity.

Managers need to be confident that when people are working remotely, they are available and as on ball as they would be if they were in the office. Absence management technology can provide this transparency and clarity over who is working where at all times to ensure flexible working works for both the company and the employee.

“For companies looking to stay ahead of the competition when it comes to recruitment and retention, then implementing flexible working for new dads, as well as the wider workforce can be a big incentive, and in turn lead to happier and more productive employees.

Stephen Warnham, jobs expert at Totaljobs, comments,

Father’s Day on Sunday was a timely reminder for the government, employers and new Dads to have more conversations surrounding the adoption of Shared Parental Leave (SPL). Shared Parental Leave legislation from the government means that parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay between them the first year after their child is born. This has been available since 2015 but the take-up has been staggeringly low because parents either can’t afford to take it or aren’t aware of it. Just 9,200 new parents have made use of SPL– a mere one per cent of those eligible.

The scheme allows fathers to spend more time with their newborn, but, importantly, also helps balance parental responsibilities in the household, by allowing their partner to return to work if they wish. It could even help to level the playing field between men and women at work, if widely used.

However, with the cost of living rising and the government currently paying just £145 a week, a lot of parents are focusing on trying to make ends meet and struggle to afford shared parental leave.

With SPL as it stands, it’s unlikely to see a significant rise in popularity unless changes are made. As employers, being able to offer the opportunity for people to spend more time with their families gives parents choice and empowers them to find the work-life balance that suits them.

No one wants to miss out on their child’s formative years, but understandably juggling working and parenting can be a challenge. Having open and honest conversations surrounding options like shared parental leave is essential to ensure employers and workers can reach an agreement that suits an individual’s needs. Beyond this, employers can embrace progressive ways of working, supporting SPL and systems like flexible working hours to help parents strike the right balance.

 

*Report from parenting web site Daddilife in association with Deloitte

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