Working Families research: Fathers with access to flexible working are more committed to employer

Fathers with access to flexible working in the private sector have better physical and psychological health, are less stressed and more committed to their employer.

According to the Working for fathers report by Working Families and Lancaster University Management School fathers working flexibly in the public sector are less troubled by their work-life balance and sense of overload but are less likely to report higher levels of wellbeing and commitment.

Fathers whose partners work full-time report significantly higher levels of wellbeing and sense of purpose. Men who claim to do most of the housework are happier with their work-life balance; and fathers on a low income feel less stressed if they are able to work flexibly.

Sarah Jackson, chief executive at Working Families, said: “Our research shows that flexible working is good for fathers, good for families and good for business.†

“It is clear that the more fathers are involved with family life, the happier they are, so we welcome government proposals to increase parental leave for fathers and to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees.

“However, we would urge them not to forget low income fathers, who currently can not afford to take paternity leave and who, our research shows, particularly benefit from opportunities to work flexibly.”

Dr Caroline Gatrell, lead researcher at Lancaster University, added: “Our results show that flexible working makes a positive difference to the lives of working fathers, which benefits both fathers and employers.

“Fathers who work flexibly have better health, better relationships with colleagues and feel more in control of their work-life balance, especially if they are on low incomes. In the private sector, there is a clear link between flexible working and enhanced employee engagement.

“However, flexible working is not a magic solution and, as can be seen among our public sector fathers, it cannot altogether cancel out the effects of anxiety in difficult times, such as recession.

“So it is important for managers right down the line to be well informed and supportive of the flexible working policies on offer, making sure that fathers can access these in practice, as well as in theory.”

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