Are employers supporting fathers to balance work with childcare responsibilities?

19 April 2017

The Women and Equalities Committee hears how employers support fathers in the workplace with witnesses from the CBI, NHS, Network Rail, the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development and the TUC.


Wednesday 19 April 2017, Thatcher Room, Portcullis House

At 10am

  • Neil Carberry, Director, People and Skills, CBI
  • Paul Deemer, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, NHS Employers
  • Matthew Creagh, TUC
  • Jo Swinson, CIPD
  • Martin Friend, HR Policy and Risk Manager, Network Rail

Purpose of the session

This evidence session explores:

  • How workplaces and employers have responded to fathers' needs, where, how and why good practice has developed and how this can be followed elsewhere
  • What challenges and constraints employers and businesses face in assisting fathers to balance their working and child caring responsibilities
  • The impact of modern employment practices on support for fathers in the workplace
  • How Shared Parental Leave and other policies can be made more effective for employers as well as employees, what improvements could be made to current policies and what the impact on employers and businesses would be


The session takes place as written evidence submitted to the inquiry from many fathers says employers are unsupportive of their responsibilities for their children.

Research shows that where employers have a cohesive set of policies to support parents balance work and family life, they are likely to reap benefits through improved employee wellbeing, engagement and productivity.

Fathers and the workplace inquiry

The fathers and the workplace inquiry follows on from the Committee's report on the Gender Pay Gap (PDF 1.65 MB) in March 2016 which found that:

  • Sharing care between fathers and mothers is the key to reducing the Gender Pay Gap
  • Many fathers want to fulfil their caring responsibilities for their children
  • The Government's flagship policy of Shared Parental Leave, introduced in 2015, is likely to have little impact, with a predicted take-up rate of just 2–8% 

Working Families states that its Modern Families Index 2017 shows that:

  • 53% of millennial fathers want to downshift into a less stressful job because they can't balance the demands of work and family life (Modern Families Index 2017, Working Families and Bright Horizons)
  • Twice the number of fathers compared to mothers believe that flexible workers are viewed as less committed and that working flexibly will have a negative impact on their career (Modern Families Index 2017, Working Families and Bright Horizons)
  • Men in the UK make up only 25.8% of the part-time workforce. Part-time working is strongly associated with undertaking caring responsibilities at home.
  • British men spend 24 minutes caring for children, for every hour done by women (Fairness in Families Index 2016, Fatherhood Institute)

The inquiry is considering the following issues:

  • How well do fathers feel their current working arrangements help them to fulfil their caring responsibilities for children of all ages?
  • Are there employment-related barriers to fathers sharing caring roles more equally?
  • Do fathers have the financial support to enable them to fulfil their caring responsibilities?
  • Are there social or attitudinal barriers to fathers in the workplace which need to be challenged?
  • Are there changes to the workplace – such as an increase in freelance, agency or casual working – which might have an impact on fathers? Are there challenges for fathers working in particular employment sectors?
  • What role can Government, employers and other stakeholders play in overcoming these barriers? What policy or legislative changes would be most effective in supporting fathers to fulfil their caring responsibilities?
  • Are there specific issues facing fathers from particular groups or backgrounds, for example because of their income or ethnicity, or fathers of disabled children and young people?

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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