Working Families, a charity that supports mums and dads who work, surveyed 2,750 parents (including 1,335 dads) and found that 38% of fathers wouldn’t mind a reduction in salary if it meant more family time.
Nearly half (47%) of the dads surveyed also said they’d like a “less stressful job”, the ‘Modern Families Index’ report found.
However, men were twice as likely as women to think that flexible working would have a negative impact on their career.
“To prevent a ‘fatherhood penalty’ emerging in the UK - and to help tackle the motherhood penalty - employers need to ensure that work is designed in a way that helps women and men find a good work-life fit,” said Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families.
The report found seven out of 10 dads are able to work flexibly to spend more time at home, but they believe this is “damaging” to their career.
Nearly half (44%) of dads said they’d previously lied to their employer about family-related responsibilities that may disrupt their working day.
The report concluded that there is a risk of a “fatherhood penalty”, with dads taking jobs below their skill sets to spend time with their children.
So what can be done?
Adrienne Burgess, CEO of the Fatherhood Institute, an organisation that aims to support men getting equality in the workplace, told The Huffington Post UK: “We need a modernised parenting leave system that makes it affordable and expected for dads to take substantial leave in their babies’ first year.
“And we need forward-thinking employers who normalise active fatherhood among their employees, actively seeking to help fathers be the kinds of dads they aspire to be, and ‘topping up’ their paternity/parental leave and pay in line with the benefits they provide to mothers.”
Burgess said this matters because previous research has shown children with highly involved fathers are hugely advantaged.
“[Kids] are happier, their friendships are more positive, they do better at school, and beyond,” she added. “The UK has so far failed to create the structures to support involved fatherhood.”
Jonathan Swan, head of research at Working Families, said dads need to take the lead in incorporating flexibility in their working lives.
“This can either be through informal agreement with their boss or through other team members who might be happy to come to a mutually beneficial arrangement,” he told HuffPost UK.
“Any employee who has worked for their employer for 26 weeks can formally request to work flexibly, using the Right to Request flexible working.”
Swan said it’s important to remember that flexible working doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge change.
“Sometimes in can mean just coming in a bit later a few times a week after dropping children at school, for example,” he said.
“We know that this is something lots of fathers now do. It can be daunting for some fathers to ask for flexibility in some workplaces, but it’s worth persisting.”
It’s important to take into account how single working dads may be affected, too.
William McGranaghan, who founded Dadshouse, a charity to support single fathers, said further problems apply when dads are the main carer of their kids.
“I can’t help thinking single dads are really up against it, with their backs on the wall,” he told HuffPost UK. “Employers are very skeptical about hiring a single dad who is the main carer, who needs flexibility for work and school runs.
“There is still very little understanding on single dads in the UK, although there are more than 440,000 main carers who are male.”
MPs on the Women and Equalities Committee are launching a new inquiry into fathers in the workplace. Committee chair Maria Miller told BBC News “more needs to be done” about fathers taking a more active role in caring for children.