Making Use of Work-Family Balance Entitlements

Jessica Moran and Alison Koslowski, University of Edinburgh

Community__Work___Family.pngExploring how employers can support fathers with combining employment and caregiving,

Read as published in Community, Work & Family

Public perceptions of fathers and fatherhood are shifting. The introduction of new family policies by the UK government mirrors these changes, in recognition of a broadening role of UK fathers beyond that of mainly financial provider to also encompass the role of active caregiver. However, overall progress toward more gender equality in parenting has been stalled in part by the lack of a movement to reshape men's work and family life.

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.

For full paper go to the journal: Community, Work & Family