Fathers face negative bias when applying for part-time work, new study reveals

An increasing number of fathers are working fewer hours to accommodate family life, but employers don’t seem to be keeping up

Josie Cox
Business Editor
Tuesday 21 February 2017 18:06
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Fathers are facing what academics call ‘forfeits’ when applying for part-time employment
Fathers are facing what academics call ‘forfeits’ when applying for part-time employment

Employers in the UK are failing to adapt to societal changes and are still conforming to antiquated gender stereotypes when it comes to hiring men for part-time work.

According to research conducted by the University of Plymouth published on Wednesday, fathers are facing what the academics call “forfeits” when applying for part-time employment, and are often met with questions over their commitment to their careers.

That’s in sharp contrast to women who regularly receive praise for their dedication to proactively seeking a work-life balance, the research shows.

“In the UK, traditional patterns of employment and parenting are in decline, and the stereotype of fathers going to work while mothers raise a family are increasingly diminishing,” says Jasmine Kelland, a lecturer in human resource management within Plymouth’s Graduate School of Management, who led the research.

She says that we are seeing an increasing number of fathers working fewer hours to accommodate family life, while mothers are more frequently working full-time.

“In the context of these societal changes, a shift in the attitudes of employers is also required so that workers are treated fairly on the basis of their skill set rather than their familial choices.”

The study included an online survey which was completed by approximately 100 managers who were asked to assess fictitious job applicants who were completely equal except for their parental status.

It also involved interviews with parents, managers and human resources professionals.

“This initial research may explain why so many more mothers work part-time than fathers,” says Ms Kelland. “If as a society we are to reach a position of equality for parents it is critical that modern workplaces address the issue of the ‘Fatherhood Forfeit’ to reduce the disparities that exist in the workplace.”

A report published by the cross-party Women and Equalities Committee on Tuesday argues that the Government will fail to achieve its goal of eliminating the gender pay gap within a generation if it continues to ignore evidence presented to it, and overlooks the deeply entrenched structural causes of inequality.

The committee says it presented the Government with a series of recommendations for how to deal with the gender pay gap back in March 2016, but that the Government had so far not taken adequate action.

One of the points the committee makes specifically pertains to shared parental leave.

The committee said that the Government had rejected a recommendation it had made for reforming parental leave on the grounds that shared leave – between mothers and fathers or second parents – was “still a very new policy” and that well-paid paternity leave would incur an additional cost.

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