Fatherhood: Is contracting the key to work-life balance?

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Britain’s fathers are missing out on their offspring’s key milestones because of demanding careers, new research suggests.

With Father’s Day fast approaching, dads across the country will be preparing to celebrate with their children. For some, however, the day will be a reminder of everything they have missed out on due to work commitments.

A survey by My Family Care has found that nearly two thirds of fathers with young children don’t have a work pattern that suits them, while a quarter are unhappy with their work-life balance.

It also revealed that many fathers in full-time, ‘traditional’ employment would like a different work pattern, with more than half wanting to work from home or leave the office an hour early. However, 50% are too afraid to ask about a different work schedule, with 42% worried that it could prevent career progression.

Meanwhile, a recent poll by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) found that 24% of dads had missed their child’s first steps, with 21% missing their first word. In contrast, only 11% of mothers missed these important milestones.

The poll also found that 32% of fathers wished they had taken more annual leave when their child was born. A slightly higher percentage (21%) regretted spending too much time away from home in their child’s first year.

What, then, is the answer for hard-working dads struggling to juggle professional and personal commitments?

One option is to leave behind the constraints of permanent employment and become a contractor or freelancer. Working in this way gives you the ability to structure your working life around your family commitments.

As one contractor who set up his own limited company with our sister company ClearSky put it: “I took three months off when each of my kids reached their first birthday. I saw all their first steps, first words etc and it has always been the greatest thing that contracting has allowed me to do.”

The freedom and flexibility on offer is one of the main reasons so many people are trying their hand at contracting.

Your income won’t be impacted either. In fact, contractors generally earn more per hour than their permanent counterparts.

Contractors employed by an umbrella company can also benefit from the government’s new Shared Parental Leave (SPL) scheme, as our HR advisor Kerry Harvey explained recently to news site Contractor Calculator.

Have your say

Are you a busy dad? Are you looking to start you contracting career so you can spend more time with your kids? Join in the discussion on Twitter, or leave a comment below.