The Fatherhood Institute has welcomed Labour’s plans to double statutory paternity leave from two to four weeks, and increase the rate at which it’s paid by £100 per week.
The institute’s joint chief executive Adrienne Burgess said:
“This would be good news for families and for business. Under the current system, more than 90% of dads take time off around the time of their children’s birth. But only 70% take statutory paternity leave, mainly because it is paid below the minimum wage, so they can’t afford to take it; instead, they use up annual leave, which means they get less time with the family later on in their child’s all-important first year.
“Extending paternity leave and paying it at a higher rate would be good for families because dads would be in a better position to become confident, hands-on carers for their babies – thus freeing up mums and dads to share the load of caring and breadwinning through their babies’ first year and beyond – which we know makes a huge difference to children’s outcomes.
“And it would be good for business because the more you can get dads embedded in hands-on caring early on, the earlier you can get the mums back to work – so companies would feel more confident about retaining both male and female talent.
“Business leaders’ criticisms of the plans as being too expensive are unfounded, because statutory paternity leave is paid for by the state. At the moment some expectant and new dads change jobs because they’re not family-friendly – which is a hidden drain on employers, who may not realise they’re losing staff for this reason.
“The Government’s shared parental leave system, which starts in April 2015, will give some families significantly greater flexibility to make choices about who takes time off – but it won’t be available to everyone.
“Whatever the results of the election, we need the politicians to create a modern, forward-thinking parenting leave system that values fathers’ vital role as hands-on carers as well as breadwinners, and gives all mums and dads the flexibility to make the right choices for their families.”
In the run up to launch of the film Down Dog on 13 February, insideMAN is running a series of articles about fatherhood and we’d love you to get involved. You can join the conversation on twitter by using the hashtag #MenBehavingDADly; leave a comment in the section below or email us with your thoughts and ideas for articles to [email protected].
For more information about the film see www.downdogfilm.com