Press release

DWP Research Report no. 729 Families and Work: Revisiting Barriers to Employment

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

New research published today by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) explores the relationship between work and parenthood.

New research published today by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) explores the relationship between work and parenthood, as well as the role of the support available to parents in helping them overcome any constraints to working.

The main summary findings are:

  • Full Time Parenting and Decisions about Returning to Work - The decision to stay at home to look after children was often reported to be a conscious choice, in order to enable parents to provide the care and support their children need to develop emotionally and educationally.  Other parents explained decisions to stay at home in terms of a lack of employment prospects, which were sometimes attributed to personal barriers such as poor health and a lack of suitable childcare.
  • Job search - Four themes emerged as key influences on the experiences of parents searching for work. These included constrained job opportunities, work experience and confidence, gendered roles and the availability of family and household support.
  • Easing the Transition into Work: Transitional and In Work Benefits - Recent policies concentrated on ensuring that work pays, supporting the transition into work; and providing advice and assistance about moving into work were found to have had only limited effect on the concerns of parents about leaving out of work benefits and the financial uncertainties they associated with being in work.
  • Experiences of Work - Parents who had returned to work reported both positive and negative experiences. Several factors were reported to support a return to work and to aid job retention. These included working part time, support from family and friends, the flexibility of employers and job satisfaction. 

Notes to Editors:

  1. The research is based on findings from two main tasks: the re-analysis of in-depth qualitative interviews of parents from a previous study commissioned by DWP (Fletcher et al., 2008) focusing on the interaction between parenthood and work and a series of additional interviews to explore issues not covered by the original interviews.
  2. This report was written by Nadia Bashir, Richard Crisp, Tony Gore, Kesia Reeve and David Robinson from the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University.