Working FatherConservative MP Maria Miller has claimed that men are worried about asking for flexible working for fear it will affect their careers.

Miller is going to be leading the Women and Equalities Committee Inquiry, beginning this week, which is aiming to understand how much support fathers receive in the workplace.

Her comments follow on from new research by the 2017 Modern Families Index which found that 44% of dads have lied about family-related responsibilities when quizzed by their employers.

Respondents to the survey also said that while family was their highest priority, half of those questioned said that finding a work-life balance is their biggest source of stress.

38% said they would take a pay cut if it meant improving their work-life balance and being able to be home more.

The findings from the study backed up Maria Miller’s comments stating within the report:

“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 they say they wouldn’t even tell their employer they had childcare problems – for fear of being viewed negatively. It’s telling that a whopping 44% of fathers have lied or bent the truth to their employer about family related responsibilities that ‘get in the way’ of work.”

The committee enquiry begins taking evidence this week and is aiming to discover:

  • Whether an increase in freelance, agency or casual working might have an impact on fathers
  • Whether workplace attitudes about fatherhood need to be challenged
  • If so, what role government, employers and other stakeholders can play in overcoming them.

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 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.”

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