Modern families at the precipice

The Modern Families Index is the most comprehensive survey of how working families manage the balance between work and family life in the UK, published annually by charity Working Families and Bright Horizons Family Solutions. The survey provides a snapshot into the lives of  working families from across the UK, with some 2,750 working parents with at least one dependent child aged 13 or younger who lives with them some or all of the time, responding to the survey. The sample gathered equal numbers of fathers and mothers of all ages, with those participating representing a range of household incomes and family structures.

The dynamic and look of modern families has changed in recent years. In 2017, there were 4.94 million married or civil partner couple families with dependent children in the UK. There were 1.25 million cohabiting couples with dependent children and 1.78 million single parent families with dependent children. Women accounted for 86 per cent of single parents with dependent children. The 78% of respondents identified as being from couple households and in just 48% of couple households, both parents worked full time. The most common household income was between £40,000 and £60,000 for couple
households, and below £40,000 for single parent households.

Some of the key points highlighted by the survey include:

  • Only one in five modern families say they have got the right balance between time (to spend with family) and money (earning or having enough income) to see their family thrive, with over a third saying they haven’t got enough time or money.
  • The proportion of working mothers has risen over the last two decades and now stands at 71%
  • 50% of parents agreed ‘my work life balance is increasingly a source of stress’, whilst 43% said that work had a negative impact on spending time helping children with their homework often or all the time.
  • Eight out of ten mothers and seven out of ten fathers agree they would assess their childcare needs before taking a new job or promotion, indicating that both genders now feel they might have to downgrade their careers in order to care for the modern day family.
  • 41% of parents are using grandparents for childcare, making it the most common type of non-parental childcare.

The report summarises the need for greater flexibility and communication in the existing relationship between a parent employee and employer. An increasing investment and training in technology to afford parents greater autonomy in engaging as part of a work force would assist many in addressing their failing imbalance. Employers will also be mindful  of modern day parents’ need for childcare and may offer creative payment and incentive packages to address these, not least by offering onsite nursery or child care provision. However, parents also reported that they were not entirely comfortable bringing their family ‘needs’ into the workplace – 34% said that had faked being sick to meet family obligations.

Serving Bedford and the surrounding villages, together with our office in central London, the lawyers at Hunter and Uro Solicitors can help you with any family law matter. If you would like to speak to one of our solicitors to discuss your case, contact us on 01234 889777 or 0207 177 9777.

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