Increase in number of men taking paternity leave comes to an end

The rise in the number of men taking paternity leave has ground to a halt as families decide they can't sacrifice the lost income from taking time off work, according to a commercial law firm.

Some 202,000 men took statutory paternity leave in the last year, up only 1 per cent from the 200,000 men who took paternity leave in 2010/11.

This is a sharp decline in the 11 per cent per year growth over the previous five years in the number of men taking paternity pay.

EMW says that the financial pressures on households, created by the economy, mean that men are becoming more reluctant to give up much needed income in order to take paternity leave.

Statutory paternity pay has been increasing at a far lower rate than the Retail Price Index – for example its most recent annual increase was just under 1 per cent up from £135.45 to £136.78 per week from 7 April 2013.

The average weekly pay for a full-time worker in the UK is £512.77.

Jon Taylor, principal at EMW says, ‘Household incomes are under a lot of pressure at the moment. Unless the economy improves or the paternity pay increases we may not see a further substantial rise in the number of men taking paternity pay.

‘The reality is that many households can’t afford more paternity leave and many SMEs could not afford the cost of additional paternity leave being passed on to them.’

Fathers are currently entitled to two weeks of leave from work for the birth of a child.

EMW adds that there is a huge and growing gap between the number of men taking paternity leave and the number of women taking maternity leave.

Some 625,000 women took maternity leave in 2011/12, with average pay for the period reaching £3,475.60 – meaning there may be 400,000 men who are not taking paternity leave.

Jon Taylor, principal at EMW adds, ‘A definite cultural shift has taken place, with the idea of paternity leave becoming accepted and even embraced by employers.

‘However, over the last couple of years, the number of men taking paternity leave has been levelling off, suggesting that paternity leave, in its current form, is reaching almost everyone it can.’

Further reading on parental leave

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of 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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Paternity leave