Government Equalities Office report: Return to Work – Parental Decision Making

Despite progress towards greater gender equality, significant inequalities persist in the way that childcare responsibilities are divided up and shared, with women in the UK doing on average about twice as much childcare as men.

This is from the May 2018 report from the Government Equalities Office on the factors that influence parental decision making around return to work.

This report also aims to design and test interventions that could motivate fathers to take a more active caring role.

The report finds:

  • Couples often make decisions about the division of childcare and return to work without explicit discussion or negotiation, despite these decisions having a substantial impact on both parents’ lives
  • Many couples experience a strong financial incentive for the mother to take on a bigger share of childcare responsibilities. This is because women tend to earn less than their partners, and most employers offer enhanced maternity pay but not enhanced Shared Parental Pay.
  • Parents’ engagement with their employer can influence how they choose to divide childcare responsibilities. Parents often lack a clear understanding of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) eligibility rules, and are not aware that it is a legal entitlement for eligible parents.
  • In early 2017, 79.5% of men were in work compared to 70.4% of women. The employment gap begins at ages associated with having children and is strikingly large for parents of younger children.
  • Research has also shown that increased involvement from fathers at an early stage is beneficial for not only the child, but also the father, as well as the parents’ relationship.

Read the full report (pdf).