UK: Half of dads cut hours or change working habits after having children

Almost half of working dads (46%) cut back on hours or change their working practices after having children, according to research from Aviva insurance.

  • Dads are main childcare provider in one in seven UK households 
  • Women are main income earners in a quarter of households with dependent children 
  • One in four working fathers give up work or reduce hours after having children
  • The cost of childcare influences decision to reduce hours or quit in 4 in 10 cases

A study carried out by the insurance provider found that a quarter (25%) of working fathers with dependent children* had either reduced their working hours or given up work altogether after having children, with dads taking on the role of the main childcare provider in one in seven (13%) UK households with children aged 18 and under.

Flexible working hours and working-from-home options also enabled fathers to cope with their new work / life balance. Only 54% of dads questioned said their working habits were unchanged after having children.

This latest study, which forms part of Aviva’s latest ‘Home’ report - due for publication in April 2017 -examines the roles of men and women in UK households and the steps taken to achieve a work/life balance. The research also found:

  • One in six working fathers (16%) were able to negotiate flexible hours to help them to look after their children. 
  • One in seven fathers questioned (13%) were also able to benefit by working from home. 
  • Women were the main income earner in a quarter (26%) of households questioned.

Of more than 1,000 parents with dependent children surveyed, two thirds of mothers questioned also said they had reduced hours or gave up work after the birth of their children. In households where parents did reduce hours or quit work, in four out of 10 instances (43%), this decision was to some extent financial, with parents saying that childcare was too expensive to make the return to full-time work worthwhile.

Financial factors also play a crucial part when deciding who takes on the role of the main childcare provider. Of the families who saw one parent reduce their hours or quit work altogether after having children, 57% said the decision was financial, saying it was necessary for the person who earned more to return to work. This was in fact the most common reason for deciding which parent took on the main childcare role.

The study also found that on the whole, hands-on dads seem to relish their roles, with 57% saying they feel ‘lucky’ to have the opportunity to spend this time with their children, although one in three (31%) said they sometimes found themselves feeling isolated as many events and groups were geared towards mothers.

That said, a third of parents felt that society has progressed and would expect to see more dads taking on the role of the ‘primary parent’ in the future.

Jan Gooding, Global Inclusion Director for Aviva says: “It’s fantastic to see that attitudes are changing and the traditional roles of mum and dad are shifting, making it possible for both parents to be more actively involved. Accommodating working practices, such as flexible working and shared parental leave, mean that both parents and businesses can feel the benefits. Parents are able to achieve a balance, while businesses can retain happier talented employees.

“We need to do more to change attitudes and create more inclusive workplaces, but it’s encouraging to see that things are moving in the right direction.”


Notes to editors:

If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:

Aviva Press Office:  Sarah Poulter, 01904 452 828 / 07800 691569,

All figures are taken from a poll carried out by Censuswide Research on behalf of Aviva in February / March 2017. All respondents were randomly selected from across the UK. 1,013 UK parents with dependent children (aged 18 and under) were interviewed.

* ‘Dependent children refers to children aged 18 and under.

About Aviva:

  • Aviva provides life insurance, general insurance, health insurance and asset management to 33 million customers, across 16 markets worldwide
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