Less than a third of men taking parental leave

The latest research into parental leave has found that less than one in three new fathers are failing to take up paternity leave.

Currently, a new father can take a maximum of two weeks’ paternity leave and claim up to £148.68 per week, but only if they are a contracted employee who has worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks before the birth.

The research, which was collected from HMRC using freedom of information requests, found that roughly only a third (31 per cent) of new fathers used the paternity leave that they were eligible for.

That represented a decrease of one per cent when compared to the previous year, and marks the fourth year of a continuous fall in new fathers taking up paternity leave.

The figures contrast with the rising number of women choosing to take maternity leave, which the research suggesting that the number has increased by around 5 per cent in the last four years.

The Government are aware of the disparity and have introduced several measures including shared parental leave, in an attempt to help create a balance between work and family lives for new parents.

However, few people have participated in the scheme, with only 1 per cent of eligible parents doing so during 2017/18.

The Government are now considering various ways to improve the process and increase the number of men taking time off after the birth of their child, with Prime Minister Theresa May looking to bring in a 12 week paid paternity leave as part of her legacy.

Experts are now looking for law changes to ease pressure on new parents.

Chris Parke, Co-founder and CEO of Talking Talent said: “Gender equality shouldn’t mean that being a working parent has to be as hard for men as it has been in the past for women.

“We believe that men should be able to take more time off to bond with their newborn and adjust to their whole new reality together as a family, without having to share.

“However, unless Paternity Leave Pay can at least offer 90% of a dad’s salary for the first four weeks of parental leave, it’s unlikely to have any take-up – and could, in fact, be a barrier, depending on wage.

“More needs to be done by UK businesses to champion working dads”