Going part-time: Dads’ balancing act

December 2, 2011

Matthew Thompson dedicates a day a week to spending time with his two-year old daughter, Lydiana. Picture: Gary Graham

Men increasingly are casting off their traditional roles as hunter providers to work part time and take a greater role in caring for their children.

Dads who don’t want to miss out on the formative years of their children’s lives are turning down full-time work to provide for their families in other ways.

Employment and social leaders are encouraging the trend, believing it will help create gender equality in the workplace as well as at home.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that 1.02 million men are working in part-time jobs this year compared with only 902,000 in 2006.

Matthew Thompson is among the new wave of part-timers. He runs his own business but dedicates a day a week to spending time with his two-year-old daughter, Lydiana.

“The plan in going to work for myself was always to do the hard yards for the first few years, with the vision (of) having a family down the track and then cut back on hours so I could spend as much time with her as possible,” he says.

“I get to spend time with her in her formative years and I can see the development.

“Being able to be there from the start and spend the time with her is fantastic.”

Thompson believes many dads would love the opportunity to spend more time with their kids.

A study by the Australian Institute of Family Studies into how Australian families spend their time found that each week, fathers with children aged under five spent 43 hours in paid employment, six hours of housework and another 16 hours parenting and playing with children.

Thompson says: “I think a lot of dads see it as important and that many of them would love to spend more time with their kids.”

The percentage of part-time male workers in Australia is significantly less than part-time female workers, who make up 21 per cent of the total workforce.

Male staff in sales, and community and personal service workers, are the most likely to work part time, with 38 per cent of males in these sectors employed part time.

One in three labourers are part-time, compared with just 6 per cent of male managers and 9 per cent of tradesmen.

Mark Reece, risk management and compliance manager at Robert Walters, explains while dads working part time are in the minority, it is an option available to some.

He says: “More men are open to part-time/consultancy type roles. The market is a major factor in that there aren’t the full-time opportunities available now as opposed to this time last year (or the) year before.

“In most cases, though, it depends on the circumstances of the candidate.

“Employers are sceptical when recently made redundant candidates open themselves to part-time roles, as a mere stop-gap solution to staying in the market.

“They are, however, more open to looking at candidates at the latter stages of their career, or women looking to return from maternity leave.”

Reece says employers increasingly are becoming more open to the possibility of offering dads part-time work.

“They are certainly open to the idea. Employers are open to looking at new ways to attract top talent,” he says.

“It relieves costs associated with the business obviously critical at the moment as candidates work on a pro rata basis but are still expected to perform their full duties.”

The 100% Project, a not-for-profit organisation striving for 100 per cent of the nation’s male and female leaders to contribute to the workforce, says its research finds family is more important to most men than career. It says 68 per cent of men are keen to cut back on areas in their life so they can be more involved in the day-to-day care of their children.

Its Men At Work: What They Want And Why It Matters For Women report says men do not ask for greater work/life balance through measures such as part-time work even if they have children because they fear that asking will harm their career. Only 39 per cent of men have asked for better work/life balance, with a top reason for not doing so being employers looking negatively on employees who take advantage of such initiatives.


Source: Going part-time: Dads' balancing act (http://www.news.com.au/business/worklife/going-part-time-dads-balancing-act/story-e6frfm9r-1226215303531)

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