Fathers support shared parental leave laws

New rules enabling fathers to share their partner's maternity leave entitlement of 52 weeks have been met with approval by dads.

Some 61 per cent of fathers say they would take the full leave, according to research from QualitySolicitors, the UK’s leading network of legal firms.

However, nearly a quarter (22 per cent) say they wouldn’t take it due to a number of reasons, including financial pressures (44 per cent), a sense of duty to be the main breadwinner (34 per cent) and a fear of being stuck at home with a newborn (25 per cent).

The Shared Parental Leave Regulations, which came into effect earlier this month, mean that fathers can share their partner’s maternity leave entitlement of 52 weeks, provided the mother takes two weeks off directly after the birth. The change in law applies for parents of children born or adopted after 5th April 2015.

While over a third (37 per cent) of respondents say they’d use the time to bond with their child, the poll shows that many dads see the extended paternity leave as an opportunity to do anything but look after the kids.

A third (32 per cent) say they’d use the time to do chores around the house, 21 per cent would use the time to take the family on holiday, and 13 per cent even say they’d go away with their mates.

As policies from Labour and the Liberal Democrats suggest statutory paternity leave may extend to either four or six weeks, the research reveals many men are unsure whether to take time off with their newborn.

Nearly half (44 per cent) say they cannot afford to take the additional leave on just statutory pay, and a third (34 per cent) say it is their duty as family breadwinner to be at work while their partner looks after the baby.

The office is an escape route for a quarter (25 per cent) of fathers who say they’d prefer work to providing daddy day care.

Many men cite the pressure they’d be under from their employer as a reason not to take the leave they are entitled to. A quarter (24 per cent) say it’d create ‘too much hassle’ at work if they were to take extended leave. 

The younger the dad is, the more likely they are to prefer work over baby duties: 40 per cent of 18-29 year-olds would rather be at work than at home, compared with 20 per cent of 30-39 year-olds. 

Matthew Inman, SME legal expert at QualitySolicitors comments, ‘It is clear that dads up and down the country welcome the recent changes to parental leave legislation. As the biggest change in parental leave law for generations, this clearly brings a unique set of challenges for SMEs who should make sure they have the right parental leave policies in place.

‘It is crucial that employers and fathers-to-be have frank conversations as to how businesses can absorb the additional workload, so that fathers taking extended leave can take advantage of what is crucial bonding time with their newborn child.’

Further reading on parental leave

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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Parental leave