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Dads feel they suffer mentally juggling work and new babies

March 5, 2020

Returning to work is the biggest pressure facing 41% new dads 
Over a quarter (26%) put careers on backburner because of lack of flexibility at work

Family_friendly_video_-_Being_dadResearch* published today by insurer Zurich highlights the difficulties faced by many new dads as they adjust to family life.  When surveyed, the majority (72%) of dads agreed that new fathers tended to suffer emotionally and mentally after the birth of babies and juggling the demands of returning to work.  

Returning to work and helping to care for a new-born was also given as the third biggest pressure facing 41% of dads, behind financial worries for just under half 46% and, unsurprisingly, general tiredness for 62%.  

In seeking a better balance between work and home, more than one in four new dads are resigned to putting their careers on the backburner because progression at work is difficult for new parents who need flexibility.

More than a third however (37%) admitted that having children has made them focus on their careers so that they can provide for their families – however these dads said it meant sacrificing time at home with their children.  

Interestingly, most dads (89%) said their employers were accommodating towards them having children though only 43% have family friendly working practices in place to support them.  More than one in ten however, said that their employer was not accommodating, potentially making it difficult for them to play active roles as parents.

The findings come as Zurich’s equalised approach to maternity and paternity leave for its 4,500 UK employees has come into force with its first fathers and partners now entitled to 16 weeks paid leave. 

Zurich’s new family friendly policies also include support for those who adopt and whose children are born prematurely with additional paid leave for the premature period. There is also paid leave to support through the IVF process; for people who’ve suffered miscarriage; a refreshed policy for those with caring responsibilities and a new bereavement and compassionate leave policy.

Zurich’s announcement coincides with Government proposals to improve parental leave entitlements for fathers and partners and for employers to be more transparent about their family related leave and pay policies.

Steve Collinson, Zurich’s Head of HR said, “Our own external research points to the fact that many dads don’t feel like they’re getting the support they need when their families grow.  Ideally, this should include time off to bond with their new families but also ongoing flexibility to enable them to continue contributing at work.  The current deal for most dads and partners, ultimately impacts both parents and seems outdated given the shifts we’re seeing in family make-up and the roles we play. 

“As an employer, we’re hugely proud of our family friendly approach – which is all about doing what’s right for our employees.  All of us at one stage or another need flexibility at work whether that’s to bond with and adapt to new additions, caring for ageing relatives or supporting those at the end of life.”

Zurich’s ‘family friendly’ policies include:

Carer_snapshots Equalised approach to company enhanced maternity, adoption and paternity leave – comes into force on 17 December 2019.  Up to 16 weeks’ full pay for second parents after 26 weeks service – the first 2 weeks of leave to be taken at birth/placement for adoption, followed by the remaining 14 weeks to be taken in one block by the child’s first birthday/first anniversary of adoption. 
Up to 16 weeks’ full pay for birth parent and primary adoptive parents – along with the statutory right for up to 52 weeks leave.
Support for premature (<37 weeks) births, with additional paid leave paid for the premature period - plus up to 16 weeks full pay (where eligible). 
A new IVF policy – allowing up to 16 days’ (pro-rated for part-timers) leave in a 12 month period - typically up to 8 days’ paid leave at key points across a cycle of IVF for the birth parent.  Flexibility and support for partners is also offered through FlexWork. 
A new policy to support miscarriage – 1 week’s paid leave followed by FlexWork and manager discretion, as appropriate. 
A refreshed carers policy – pushing creative thinking around working patterns (short and long term) and FlexWork.  
A refreshed bereavement and compassionate leave policy for closest relatives (Parent/Partner/Spouse/Child) – 1 month’s paid leave, followed by manager discretion as required – we’ve also included flexibility to allow people to take leave at end of life so people can spend last living days with a relative). 

*(August 2019) research carried out amongst 1000 dads of children aged 0-5 who work full time – not Zurich employees.