Modern Families Index: Annual Snapshot of UK’s Working Families 2015

Bright Horizons and Working Families have teamed up on this research of 1000 UK working families.  The findings were published in January 2015, and provide us with a crucial insight into the issues affecting us.  We have scoured the report and highlighted some of the key findings that surprised us and inspired us:

  1. Fathers are putting in longer hours at work than men without children[i].  Why is this?  Could it be that as men become fathers they feel a greater pressure to provide for their families and therefore feel they should be working longer to prove their commitment?  It may also be due simply to workload and the level of seniority reached during the parenthood years (55% said staying late was the only way to deal with the workload) and 49% said it was because of the organisation’s culture
  2. Younger fathers are doing the school run more frequently than mothers in the under 25 age group.  Why?  There is some evidence that younger fathers are more concerned with flexibility and spending time with their families than older fathers.  It could also be that many men take on more responsibility as they become older and more senior, meaning it’s harder to find the flexibility required for frequent school runs.
  3. The traditional, male, sole breadwinner of the family now only accounts for 22% of working families.  It is now more common to find dual full-time earners (29%).  Financial pressures, consequences of the recession, coupled with more opportunities for women in the workplace will all have affected these figures.  It’s still surprising though!
  4. Nearly 3 in 5 grandparents provide regular childcare.  The report also states the growing pressure that grandparents are under as many are also in paid work.  Despite this family childcare, parents in the UK spend 33% of their net household income on childcare (in comparison to an OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development – global outlook) average of just 13%)!
  5. 61% of respondents said they worked flexibly in some way – this is a pretty encouraging figure.  More surprising is this – there was no significant difference between the number of men and women working flexibly
  6. The main barrier to flexibility working well is not down to lack of productivity or managers/cultural issues (although these are also important factors) – it’s simply that roles are often too big for their hours[ii]In our opinion, employers need to address work allocation, team size and objectives, which would enable more success in flexible working
  7. Fathers are more confident about asking their employer’s permission to miss a work event for a family occasion (41%) than asking for working hours to be reduced (31%).  This is a step in the right direction – a recognition that family events are important; however addressing workload concerns appears to be more of a taboo
  8. 55% of men versus 52% women said they favoured Shared Parental Leave.  This may be because mothers may favour maternity leave in terms of benefits but also gendered beliefs around the role of the carer.  Both men and women strongly agreed, however, that SPL pay needs to be close to salary levels before it becomes a viable option

Understanding the concerns of our working families helps us at PfP Coaching to ensure our workshops, material, advice and research remains current.  Many of the workshop-discussions are inspired by (sometimes contentious and surprising) quotes and statistics such as these from the Modern Families Index.  We would like to thank both Bright Horizons ( and Working Families ( for this invaluable contribution.



[ii] The most common reason for not working flexibly was ‘my current role does not accommodate flexible working’ (170 responses) versus just 25 responses against ‘I believe working flexibly will negatively impact my career’

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