London is still a rush hour city with most working dads going to and from their jobs at roughly the same time for at least forty hours a week. But dad of three Duncan McCann from Hackney decided that lifestyle was not for him five years ago and he says now he wouldn’t have it any other way. “A lot of my friends would not conceive of flexible working or going part time and I would agree it is a big transition but one that really is worthwhile,” he says.
The move was made financially viable by working two days a week at Hackney’s Grasshoppers nursery in the accounts department giving his sons a discounted place there. “Ultimately we have less money, but I spend much more time with the kids which is not only less stressful but also more rewarding.”
This system of both parents working fewer hours has been championed in Iceland where all public sector staff work a 35 hour week for 40 hours pay. They have found that productivity did not go down and both parents and children were happier. Working flexible hours also puts less pressure on the infrastructure in countries like the Netherlands and Norway. It’s making it possible for dads to be more involved in family life and take a more active role in childcare.
Sarah Lyle from the New Economics Foundation says a group of Londoners is leading a campaign to change the law on flexible working. “Whilst workers here have the right to ask for flexible working, they don’t have to be given a good reason if the request is refused. This is what we would like to change. If employees are given stronger rights in this area then flexible working will become more of a norm. It has shown to lead to more equality in the workplace and for dads to take a bigger share in looking after their children.”
Duncan says he would encourage other dads to take the leap. “I think there definitely is a psychological barrier. But the real reward is the bond that develops in the family by being around more rather than always working or travelling to and from work. As a family we are all happier. I definitely am.”
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This article was written by Sarah Harris from the BBC. @SarahHreports
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