Working dads don’t know their rights to flexible working

New academic study finds many working dads may not be working flexibly because they don’t know they have the right to request it

The words flexible working written on a post it note next to a keyboard and a pen


Working dads may not be adopting flexible working arrangements because they aren’t aware of their rights.

New research found around a third of fathers did not know they have the right to ask for changes in how they work. Among part time workers that figure shoots up to 58%. Four in every five working dads did not realise job share is something they are eligible to ask for. That’s despite coverage of high profile job share pair Sam White and Will McDonald at Aviva.

Women were much more likely to know their rights. Only one in 10 did not know they had a right to request flexible working. 70% of working mums did not know job share was a possibility for them.

Trades unions

The findings are part of a new study in the journal Work, Employment and Society, published by the British Sociological Association.

Fathers in lower supervisory and technical occupations are more than twice as likely to be unaware that working reduced hours could be an option for them compared to professional or managerial fathers. If a trade union was active in an organisation dads were twice as likely to be aware of their rights.

Hours reduction

All employees who have been in their job for at least six months have a legal right to request flexible working arrangements. Employers have a legal obligation to deal with requests in a “reasonable manner”. The researchers found that only around a quarter of managers know that employees can request a change to how they work.

One of the academics involved in the study, Dr Rose Cook of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London, said that ensuring employees knew their rights regarding flexible working was particularly important given the risks of working in proximity to colleagues during the current pandemic.“The Covid-19 crisis has shown us it is possible to make huge changes to working practices rapidly and at scale. Let’s make hours reduction for fathers part of this conversation.”

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