More people believe dads should be equal partners in parenting

Latest edition of British Social Attitudes Survey throws up tons of nuggets for those interested in what the nation thinks.

Shared Parental Leave


The belief that childcare should be equally split between dads and mums is catching on.

The latest British Attitudes Survey, the gold standard in understanding how the British public thinks, has thrown up lots of fascinating evidence about opinions on family and work.

A third of those questioned said childcare should be split down the middle between mums and dads. That’s a big leap from 2012 when just one in five agreed that was the best way to divide the childcare load.

However it’s not all good news for dads. 40% still believe the mother should do most of the childcare and the father should do some. Next to nobody thinks men should do all or even most of the care.

The evidence found that men and women are equally likely to support splitting childcare evenly. Support for Shared Parental Leave as a policy was strongest among the younger age groups and among the better educated. That finding backs up recent research that has suggested millenials have a different outlook to older generations and expect more from their employers when it comes to parental leave and pay policies.

Working dads

The research was carried out by independent social research centre NatCen. They quizzed over 2000 people to take the nation’s temperature on a range of issues including Brexit, poverty and religion.

The chapter covering family and childcare is titled ‘Women and Work’ despite covering issues like Shared Parental Leave and flexible working which are relevant to working dads.

On flexible working it was a positive picture in terms of opinions and knowledge but less rosy when it comes to practice.

74% of people know that parents are entitled to ask for flexible working. Two thirds said they’d feel comfortable making a flexible working request, though 18% said they would be very uncomfortable about it.

Most people felt asking for a new way of working was unlikely to impact their career prospects. However nearly a third said it would have a negative effect on their jobs.

Lack of movement

Most striking was the lack of movement in the charts showing the number of people actually working flexibly. In the seven years since the 2012 survey the numbers had barely changed. 1% reported doing a job share, 12% work flexitime and 21% are part-time – a fall of 6% since 2012.

A question about how families should organise their work life found less than 1% think that men should stay at home or work part time while their partners work full time. A third of people declined to pick an option leaving it to individual families to choose what works for them. However a similar proportion reckon mothers should work part time and fathers full time.

Perhaps most surprisingly of all, while the vast majority of people think parents should get some paid leave when they have a baby 10% think mums and dads ought to get no paid leave at all!

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