Work-life balance charity Working Families is launching a new mobile phone text service where fathers can ask questions about their paternity rights and the right to request flexible working.
From April next year the Work and Families Act will extend the right to request flexible working to carers of adults, but reserach by Working Families has revealed that fathers are less likely than mothers to request flexible working and more likely to have their requests turned down.
The helpline, which has received Lottery funding, will operate from 10am to 3pm on weekdays and three evenings a week.
Working Families chief executive, Sarah Jackson, said studies show that children whose fathers have been actively involved in their lives have higher educational achievements, more satisfactory relationships in adult life and less likelihood of being in trouble with the police.
“Yet 40% of fathers in the UK work more than 48 hours a week,” she said. “So, the focus of the project is to give fathers information about their rights at work and encourage them to apply for flexible working hours.
The Work and Families Act will also include the provision for fathers to share childcare responsibilities with the mother through a new right to up to 26 weeks’ ‘additional’ paternity leave – by ‘splitting’ the remaining maternity leave after the mother has been off for 20 weeks. This is on top of the existing two weeks of statutory paternity pay already available to fathers.
The freephone legal helpline is 0800 013 0313.