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Why are fathers left out of the work-life balance debate?

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Published by: Olivia Brown

28th January 2014

A report in the Telegraph today stated that fathers are ‘twice as likely as mums to have flexible working requests turned down‘, only a few days after Lucy Powell, Shadow Minister for Childcare and Children, wrote a piece asking why father are left out of the work-life balance debate.

The report highlights the problems for working parents; whilst mothers are increasingly being encouraged to return to the workplace, with the help of flexible working, fathers are being left behind. Official government statistics from 2012 showed that nearly one in five fathers who request flexible work patterns are denied permission, yet only one mother in ten were refused. The figures also presented that just 17 per cent of fathers applied for flexible working schemes, with nearly half as many mothers applying. Lucy Powell showed her concern about the ‘raw deal’ that fathers are subjected to, stating that although ‘women still face a glass ceiling to get back and get on in work, many dads face cultural barriers to being able to work flexibly, including working long hours, inflexible organisational culture and expectations that men should be the main breadwinner.’

The Employment Act 2002 gives parents the right to request a flexible working pattern, however, even a decade later men are still twice as likely to be turned down than women.

As Lucy Powell states in her article, ‘modern dads want a modern workplace, which is understanding and responsive to their needs.’ As we strive towards gender equality in the workplace, where discrimination of working mothers is diminished and women continue to climb to the top positions, the workplace must act accordingly and not let the fathers get left behind.

Do you think fathers are left out of the work-life balance debate? Are you a father who has been denied flexible working, or would you like to apply but haven’t?

Share your thoughts with us below, or join the discussion on Twitter: @Dutyfy #DutyfyDiscussions

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