Parental Leave Survey Reveals Working Dads Using Paid Leave

Vast Majority Of Families However Want More Paid Paternal

19.11.2014

David Shirt, Press Officer | 0161 838 3094

According to parenting website Mumsnet, two-thirds of working fathers use their paid annual leave so they can afford to take time off after the birth of their children.

The survey  of more than 1,000 mothers however found that four out of five couples wanted the father to take more paternity leave, but didn’t because most men could not afford it.

Justine Roberts, chief executive of Mumsnet, said: "It's good to see the importance of fathers in babies' lives being recognised but in practice, we're not yet getting basic paternity leave right. It ought to enable dads to spend time with their new babies, but because of the woefully low rate at which it's paid, they're forced to take annual leave or miss out altogether.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "It's quite unfortunate that so many parents are unable to take time away from work to care for and support their young children, and it is bizarre that even in the 21st century, hundreds and thousands of hard-working parents are having to abide by Edwardian rules when it comes to juggling their work and family lives.

"We need a modern Britain that works for modern families, not against them. I've fought hard in Government to bring about that change, whether it's through the introduction of flexible working, free childcare, shared parental leave or equalising paternity pay, so that men can spend more time with their newborn child without being penalised financially.”

The survey has been published ahead of the introduction of shared parental leave rules. Under the new system, a pregnant woman will continue to have access to 52 weeks of maternity leave and 39 weeks of pay but from April 2014, working families will have the opportunity to share this leave.

Shared parental leave (ShPL) will be available to eligible employees whose babies are due on after 5 April 2015, or who have a child placed with them for adoption on or after that date.  It is entirely optional and parents who do not wish to take ShPL will remain entitled to benefits from all existing rights except additional paternity leave and pay which is being abolished. 

Commenting on this survey and the new shared parental leave rules, Fergal Dowling, Employment Partner at national law firm, Irwin Mitchell, said:

Expert Opinion
The concept behind shared parental leave is to provide a personal choice for working parents about how they wish to care for their baby during its first year. Whilst this will enable eligible fathers and co-parents to spend time at home with their partner and child without using paid annual leave, the reality is that many will continue to do so because shared parental pay will be paid at a flat rate of £138 per week for a maximum of 39 weeks.

“This will not make it any easier for parents who earn in excess of this to take the 'hit' financially unless their employers choose to enhance shared parental pay. Anecdotal evidence suggests that in the current economic climate most are not planning on doing so, even where they enhance maternity pay.”
Fergal Dowling, Partner