Father’s Day is celebrated internationally to recognise fathers’ and father figures’ contributions to their children’s lives. It provides an opportunity to honour our fathers and it also allows us a moment to reflect on the role of today’s working fathers and their rights as a working parent.
There have been significant changes in work patterns of late such as more part-time workers and thanks largely to technological advances, flexible working arrangements, short-term contracts and contract work and working from home; now available in a way they were not before.
People’s attitudes to and expectations about work have also transformed. Whilst historically part-time work has been the preserve of working mothers, an increasing number of fathers are now wanting to be actively involved in bringing up their children; maybe for their own reasons or because many mothers want to continue working and choosing to work on a part-time basis and/or more flexibly.
Working fathers currently have the right to:
- make a flexible working request
- take shared parental leave/pay (SPL)
- take paternity leave/pay
- take unpaid parental leave
- take emergency unpaid leave to look after a dependant
- take unpaid leave to attend antenatal appointments.
Introducing shared parental leave in 2015 was a significant moment for gender equality. The intentions were good, giving new parents much more choice and flexibility about taking leave to look after a new baby, particularly if Mums were the higher earners and if Dads wanted to play a bigger role in their child’s early life. However, the complexity of the rules and the significant financial gap between statutory maternity pay and statutory shared parental pay in the early weeks have outweighed these positives for many. Four years on, the take-up is poor, prompting a Governmental review on how to ensure real SPL uptake and make it a more realistic and attractive option.
The Women and Work All Party Parliamentary Group has published a report analysing the barriers faced by women returning to work after a career break of more than six months. The main recommendations include equalising statutory maternity pay and shared parental pay to encourage greater uptake of shared parental leave.
What Should Employers Consider?
In an evolving society, keeping pace with what employees want whilst remaining competitive is challenging.
- Whilst many employers now provide packages to attract and retain female employees, they could also extend these to attracting and retaining working fathers.
- Employers should keep their flexible working policies relevant, accessible and transparent; so, all employees know that they have this right. 2019 sees important policy developments:
- the evaluation of the extension of the right to request flexible working
- the government’s proposal for a duty on employers to consider whether a job can be done flexibly and to make that clear when advertising roles.
- Challenge assumptions that reduced hours means reduced commitment. Start tracking performance appraisals to ensure that flexible workers, and part-time workers, are not penalised by a workplace culture that values long hours and presenteeism.
Happy Father’s Day to all Fathers and Father figures everywhere and here’s to those fathers who are already doing things differently and the many others who would like a better balance between their work and family life.
If you need any advice on current rights for fathers in the workplace or how you can become more father friendly, please contact Clover HR We would be delighted to help.
Clover HR: Email address firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: 01905 824051 or 0121 5160299