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Making use of work-family balance entitlements: How to support fathers with combining employment and caregiving

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-128
JournalCommunity, Work & Family
Volume22
Issue number1
Early online date24 Dec 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Dec 2018

Abstract

Much workplace support to parents offered by employers is gender neutral in design, but fathers’ usage rates are generally very low and far below that of mothers. This paper reflects on men’s dual roles as fathers and employees in relation to formal and informal work policies and practices, with the aim of answering the question: How could fathers feel supported by their work environment to take a more active caregiving role in the lives of their children? We take a capabilities approach to explore models of change, which supports the assumption that many fathers are somehow not fully enabled by their organisations to use policies. Focus groups were conducted within a large public sector organisation in the UK to capture the individual and interactional experiences of fathers. Findings suggest that workplace culture, line manager relationships, the ‘modelling’ behaviour of peers and gendered leave practices all impact on how fathers feel about using work-family balance policies, and whether they are likely to use them. The limits of workplace support for fathers can be challenged via the consideration of some key institutional conversion factors which if addressed may better enable fathers to exercise greater agency with regard to work-family balance entitlements.

    Research areas

  • shared childcare, work-family balance, fathers, capabilities, leave policy

ID: 58195365