Fathers fear the social stigma of working part-time

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According to a survey by recruitment firm Office Angels, fathers want to work part-time in order to spend more time with their children, but worry about how they will be viewed for doing so.

The report, ‘Rise of the part-time dads’, revealed that 57% of respondents who currently work full-time would like to reduce their hours, but the findings also suggest that they are apprehensive about how they will be perceived by society.

Of 1,072 working fathers who were surveyed, 70% admitted to being concerned that society attaches a stigma to the part-time working father.

In addition to this, 54% said they feared being seen as the ‘weaker partner’ for choosing to stay at home.

The report found that the most common reasons for fathers choosing to work part-time were: to share in household and family responsibilities (32%); to spend more time with their children (31%); and to achieve a better work/life balance (31%).

Commenting on the findings, Angela Smith, Operations Director, Office Angels, said:

“It’s no longer unusual for the woman to be the highest earning partner in a relationship, and against this backdrop, a new trend has emerged: that of the part-time dads, who take a greater role in the upbringing of their children.

“We found that it is not just financial matters alone that steer these life choices. Work-life balance is increasingly a subject that weighs heavy on dads’ minds.”

Another revelation from the research was that 27% of those surveyed did not take the two weeks paternity leave they were entitled to.

Smith commented:

“Fathers are not taking advantage of their paternity leave entitlement, which could be for a number of reasons. They may feel that their workload is too heavy, or their colleagues will disapprove, or they might simply not know about their legal rights to request time off.”

She concluded:

“With Government changing legislation so fathers can spend more time with their children, by 2015 parents will be allowed to share the 50 week maternity leave entitlement, we should see more dads taking advantage of their paternity leave entitlement.”

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4 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. My partner returned to work out of London (for same organisation) after a decade away and working for Head Office. He’s been allowed to work 4 days a week as practice he did when at HO. The London office were not happy about it but had to accept as a HO agreement. He is shocked at the presenteeism that still exists in the London office a decade on and in spite of changes in working culture and habits in that time. He’s currently trying to influence working from home and flexibility, including part time contracts at higher levels as knows it is possible but is equally aware that he’s facing becoming stigmatised by some of senior managers in their view of him.

  2. In Sept 2012 I moved from a full time HR managerial role (turning down a ‘Head of role’) to working part time.

    The upsides: it allowed my wife to return to work and continue her career (post maternity leave), I could continue my career (no break to my CV) and most importantly I could spend invaluable time bonding with my son, helping him develop – whilst (trying!) to keep our homelife in check.

    The downsides: A noticable influx of ‘passing comments’ from colleagues regarding my new working arrangement (possibly jealousy/ resentment/ possibly me being over-sensitive?). Whilst most of my male & female friends were supportive, understanding and respectful of my decision it seemed to be colleagues and peers within the workplace that had issues or hang ups with my (possibly un-common?) arrangement.

    In April this year I am due to return to work full time and I can honestly say it has been the most fantastic experience that I am very proud of and would encourage any other father with the opportunity to take it with both hands.

    After all, spending more time with your family is never going to be something that you look back on and regret when you are old an grey!

  3. Sad, but not surprising – it really shouldn’t be a big deal in these “enlightened” times but even my own HR team seem to have a preconception. Speaking of which, I wonder when we’ll get away from the idea that it’s only parents want or value flexible working? There are plenty of reasons someone might want to reduce or adjust their hours (as highlighted in the piece) and all are valid for the individual. I acknowledge the difficulties, but surely a good employer’s starting point should be “why not?” rather than “why?”.

  4. We all together make the society. We have overcome the stigmas attached to woman working at all in the past. With more aware fathers and parents who will understand the importance of balance, the significance of life and could rise above their male ego, then it’s not long when we will start feeling a shift in society as a whole where it will be a ‘norm thinking’ that male workers are opting for part time for very good reasons. The good news is that the process has already started! One more thing more empowerment in females and being more ambitious can contribute hugely to speed up this shift as the legal framework is already there. More and more ethnic women need to rise above the dogmatic norms and try to avail this opportunity!

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