Fathers seek more flexible working to look after children

Davy MacIver and Maree Aldam enjoy flexible working so they can spend more time with their son Soren.
Davy MacIver and Maree Aldam enjoy flexible working so they can spend more time with their son Soren.
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One in five Scottish fathers have adopted some form of flexible working so that they can look after their children more, a survey has revealed.

A report released to coincide with Father’s Day found that 40 per cent of men with children have a flexible working arrangement, such as working part time or with flexible hours, with 17 per cent saying it is to ensure they can do their share of childcare.

Meanwhile, more than half of working fathers in Scotland drop off or pick up their children from school or childcare at least half the time, according to the Modern Families Index 2018, published by charity Working Families and childcare provider Bright Horizons.

More than one in ten have reduced their working hours for their family, while almost a quarter have either found a new job that better suits family life, or are seeking one with an employer that better supports working parents.

Nikki Slowey, joint programme director at Family Friendly Working Scotland, said: “Just a generation ago fathers often disappeared before dawn and returned long after bedtime to bring home the bacon. But times are changing. As women strive for equality in the workplace, it opens up opportunities for men to play a more direct role in their children’s lives.

“What we need now is for employers to embrace flexible working for women and men. We know people are more productive and engaged and less likely to leave if they have a good work life balance – regardless of their gender – all of which is good for business.”

According to a previous report published by Fathers Network Scotland, fathers’ involvement in childcare increased from less than 15 minutes a day in the mid-1970s to three hours a day during the week by the late 1990s. In 2005, fathers did a third of parental childcare within households.

Shared parental leave, where parents can share 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay after they have a baby, was introduced in 2015. However, the Department for Business recently said take-up “could be as low as 2 per cent”.

‘Shared parental leave felt like a no-brainer’

Davy MacIver and Maree Aldam from Glasgow share work and caring responsibilities for their 20-month-old son, Soren. They are expecting their second child in September.

Davy, who works as a senior adviser for Shelter Scotland’s helpline, and Maree, chief executive of charity the International Network of Street Papers, took shared parental leave when Soren was born, each taking several blocks of parental leave throughout the year. Davy now works full-time hours compressed into four days, while Maree works part-time doing the equivalent of four days a week, some of which she does from home.

The family lives in Glasgow. They are expecting their second child in September.

Davy, 37, said: “I’d always wanted to be more involved in my children’s upbringing and Maree’s job comes with a lot of responsibility, so shared parental leave gave us both the opportunity to keep working and share the care of our baby.

“The time was unforgettable. It was hard work but amazing. I felt so proud of what I was doing. It felt like a good thing for Soren, a good thing for me and a good thing for Maree.

“Sometimes I do feel a pang of ‘man pride’ that I should just be working and earning as much as possible. But I know it’s ridiculous. That’s not how families need to be any more. I have a day a week at home with Soren and I love it. I feel I have a really strong bond with him because of the time I can spend with him.”

Maree, 37, said: “Shared parental leave felt like a no-brainer for us. It meant I could maintain a presence at work and Davy didn’t have to miss out on all those first milestones for Soren. There’s definitely a sense that we’re doing this together and there’s no resentment about who’s doing what. It’s brought us even closer.”