Working dads discriminated against during lockdown

New poll finds around one in five working parents, regardless of gender, felt they were untreated fairly this year


Around one in five working dads claims they were treated unfairly during lockdown because of their caring responsibilities.

A new poll of working parents found many reporting employers treating them poorly simply because they have children.

Seventeen per cent of working dads and 22% of working mums agreed with the statement “I have felt treated less fairly at work because of my childcare responsibilities”. That adds up to around 2.5 million parents. The poll was commissioned by the charity Working Families. Off the back of the findings they are calling for caring commitments to be added to the list of protected characteristics that employers must not discriminate against.


Jane van Zyl, chief executive of Working Families, said: “At the height of lockdown, the Prime Minister made clear that parents must be ‘defended and protected’ if they are unable to work because they cannot get the childcare they need. But there is currently no legal or regulatory mechanism to defend or protect working parents in the way the Prime Minister has suggested.

“In terms of childcare, we are certainly not back to ‘business as usual’. Since schools reopened, parents have continued to struggle, managing staggered school times, gaps in wraparound care provision, and the ever-present risk of being required to self-isolate.”

Part time workers are much more likely than full time employees to agree they’d been discriminated against. While 15% of full timers reported unfairness, twice as many part timers agreed.

Flexible working

Working Families published a report containing the findings called Flexistability: Building Back Better for the UK’s Working Families. On flexible working they found that, of the 45% of parents who weren’t working flexibly prior to the pandemic, nearly four out of five said that the reason was because managers had told them that flexible working wasn’t possible. Many parents felt their employer’s cultural resistance to working remotely had been broken down by the pandemic.

Working Families is recommending that employers should publicly report annually on how many jobs are advertised on a part-time and flexible basis. They should also have to declare how many staff are recruited on a part-time and flexible basis.

They also suggested working dads should get more paternity leave and it should be easier for parents to divide up parental leave between them as they see fit.

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