Working Fathers and their Families: Inquiry launched into the “fatherhood penalty”

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Working Fathers and their Families: Inquiry launched into the “fatherhood penalty”

Working Fathers and their Families: Inquiry launched into the “fatherhood penalty”

2017 is now upon us and as discussed in a previous article the important words on your lips for this year should be, gender pay gap.

We know that many employers will have to start analysing their gender pay gap in April, with a view to bringing the pay of their female employees into line with their male counterparts, but is paying people more a masquerade to a wider issue? Some would argue yes.

By issue, we mean the notion of the “motherhood penalty.” That is, women taking on lesser roles, lower paid work and sacrificing career progression in order to care for their families. One way to avoid females falling into the trap of the “motherhood penalty” (and in turn reducing the gender pay gap), is for fathers to take on a shared role of caring for their families. This was a key finding from a report (the “Report”) on the Gender Pay Gap produced by the Women and Equalities Committee (the “Committee”) in March 2016. But whilst an emphasis is placed on women juggling their family and careers, and suggesting that men should take on a larger role in caring for the family, has the impact this may have on fathers been forgotten?

The answer is yes according to the Committee after assessing the Report’s findings. Therefore, the Committee has now launched an inquiry into how employers can support fathers within the workplace.

Research has revealed that fathers do want to fulfil the responsibility of caring for their children, but at present statistics show that British men spend just 24 minutes caring for children, for every hour done by women. In fact, a survey carried out by the charity Working Families revealed that 53% of millennial fathers want to downshift to a less stressful job to give them a better balance between caring for their children and working.

Whilst this is the desired lifestyle for many fathers, the reality is that many consider the balance is not possible. Research suggests that some believe reducing their hours, working more flexibly, taking paternity and shared parental leave may have a negative impact on their career; they fear the “fatherhood penalty.” The Committee states that shared parental leave has a predicted take up rate of just 2-8% and therefore, it would be fair to assume that such fear exists. Maria Miller chair of the Committee noted that “the Government admits that its flagship Shared Parental Leave policy is likely to have a very low take-up rate.”

That said, Maria went on further to say that “supporting parents in the workplace is a priority for the Government.” Therefore, the inquiry will seek views until 1 March 2017 and then analyse the results to establish what can be implemented to support fathers within the workplace.

In the meantime, your organisation can support fathers in the workplace by:

  • Ensuring policies on paternity leave, shared parental leave and flexible working are up to date available to all to ensure fathers are familiar with their rights;
  • Offering fathers training, for example mentoring or coaching which can help them to cope with the demands of work and family life;
  • Offering fathers benefits that exceed the statutory minimum to help them balance work and family life; and
  • Carry out a job analysis to help the employer and the father identify the most appropriate options for performance of their role while on paternity, shared parental leave or working flexibly.

For more information, please contact our employment team on 0345 070 6000.