Paternity leave proposals unattractive for fathers

Fathers will not take up the new paternity leave entitlement set out by the government, claims the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

The government measures will allow mothers to decide to return to work after six months, after which fathers will have the option to take the remaining legal entitlement of six months.

The research shows that the low statutory pay requirement would dissuade fathers from taking the extra time off work.

Mike Emmott, employee relations adviser at the CIPD, says: ‘Our research shows that paid paternity leave, restricted as it is to a statutory £123.06 per week, is not attractive to the vast majority of fathers.’

The CIPD asserts that less than half of fathers would take even the existing two weeks’ leave at statutory pay levels, ‘so the proposed increase in paid paternity leave is unlikely to lead to any dramatic increase in take-up.’

In addition, the CIPD expressed concern about the administrative burden involved in sharing parental leave, which would discourage employers from promoting the new measures, and potentially lead to parents failing to get the leave to which they are entitled.

Andrew Millard, director of e-commerce at Citrix Online, says: ‘While the government’s proposal to allow mothers to split some of their maternity leave with their partners may be valuable in assisting new parents, the move is likely to be an added burden for employers who are already under increasing economic pressure, particularly smaller businesses.’

Update March 2010: New survey confirms that Dads will not be taking the maximum amount of paternity leave

Only 18 per cent of working men will take all of the proposed six months’ paternity leave, according to a survey from Orange.

Money concerns were found to be the main factor preventing fathers from taking the full leave (47 per cent), with a quarter (27 per cent) claiming that they wouldn’t take any time off when it comes into effect from April 2011.

Some 15 per cent claim their positions at work are too important to the business to be absent for six months, while 3 per cent believe their senior management are actively against it.

Martin Lyne, director for small and medium business at Orange UK, says: ‘In today’s modern working environment, it is right that businesses [enable] male employees to take their full paternity leave. And it does not have to mean huge sacrifices by either party.’

The legislation will enable a new mother to transfer the last three months’ of her paid maternity leave to the father, who after this period can then take an additional three months’ unpaid leave.

Of the 717 men surveyed, 79 per cent say they would use a flexible working arrangement if their employer encouraged it.

Related: European countries putting the UK’s paternity leave to shame – New research compares the UK’s paternity leave and pay to other countries across the world and finds Britain wanting.

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Paternity leave

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