Paternity leave take-up only 55 per cent

Research out today shows only 55 % of fathers take the two weeks’ paternity leave to which they’re entitled, and are also reluctant to request flexible working.

Today’s Equality and Human Rights Commission report “Fathers, family and work” reveals nearly half the fathers surveyed did not take two weeks’ statutory paternity leave (p. 12) after the birth of their child. Two-thirds of those wanting to have taken paternity leave “a lot” said they could not afford to do so.

Sam, a father who works in the City, told Left Foot Forward:

“I have applied for flexible working and it’s still being considered. My main concern is that it’s not at all clear how it will work and I may pay the price for the lack of clarity.

“So few people work flexibly (especially men in City firms) that there isn’t an established way of dealing with it and clients and colleagues aren’t used to dealing with it. I could end up working much harder in the four days I’m in the office in order to make it work, which shouldn’t really be the case – especially for a 20 per cent pay cut.

“I wasn’t concerned about the effect that requesting flexible working might have on my career, but I am concerned that if it doesn’t work I will just have to come back to work full time – or my career will be affected.”

The report also highlights the low take-up of flexible working (p. 10), despite the right to request flexible working being extended in April to include most full-time workers with parental responsibility for children aged 16 or under.

Forty per cent of fathers in the finance and business sector and 70 per cent employed in manufacturing said flexible working was not available to them, but among those to whom it was available, less than a third actually used it. Two-thirds of all fathers said flexible working arrangements were an important factor when looking for a new job.

Reasons for not taking up flexible working included respondents worrying it would mark them out as not committed to their jobs (36 per cent) or believing it would negatively affect their chances of promotion (44 per cent) – though 32 per cent said nothing would stop them asking for flexible working, the most common forms of which were flexi-time, staggered start and finish times and working from home.

Yesterday Left Foot Forward reported on the CBI’s proposals to drive down public sector sickness absence to private sector levels, the result of which could see people working when unwell or being afraid to take time off through a combination of fear and lack of sick pay.

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