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Young fathers most resentful towards employers about work-life balance

Young fathers are more resentful towards their employer about work-life balance than mothers, according to a survey by Working Families and Bright Horizons.

The Time, Health and the Family report, which surveyed more than 1,000 working parents, found young fathers aged 26 to 35 are twice as likely as mothers to strongly resent their employers for a lack of work-life balance. It found fathers with a single child tend to feel more resentful than fathers with more than one child.

Young fathers said they were almost as likely to be first port of call as mothers when things go wrong with childcare or at school. Otherwise, mothers are overwhelmingly more likely to be called by nurseries and schools.

Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families, said the findings around young working fathers reveal a “quiet revolution in attitudes”, which may impact on the workplace.

“The male employee, focused full-time on his work, is becoming a museum piece,” she said. “Tomorrow’s workers, male and female, will expect time and space for their family lives and responsibilities alongside their work."

Writing in The Telegraph, Labour’s shadow minister for childcare and children Lucy Powell said: "We know having more dads involved in childcare and home life is good for children, but this should benefit employers too, making their employees happier and less resentful. Policy and practice need to change to give more opportunities to fathers as well as mothers."

Lack of flexible options

The survey also found work is disrupting family life for more than 40% of families, with fathers aged 26 to 35 affected most. Nearly half (47%) of respondents said their work life was becoming increasingly stressful.

However, almost a third of parents reported there was no flexible working on offer where they worked. The education, retail and healthcare sectors are the least likely to offer flexible working.

Jackson said she was "struck" by how many parents said flexible working was not available. 

"Over 90% of UK organisations say they offer at least one form of flexible working and so we must conclude that employers need to improve their communications about the possible options," she said. “What’s not known about won’t be asked for. If resentment builds up about lack of flexibility, performance will suffer."