Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Does Dad still bring home the bacon while Mum brings up baby?

Some fascinating figures on paternity have been released this week: It emerges that almost half of working fathers don’t take their right to two weeks' statutory paternity leave. This is not because they want to escape the squawking babe, but because they can't afford to.

Additionally, a fair proportion of the new fathers feel frightened to ask for flexible working arrangements, as they are concerned that it might limit their career prospects. Even so, almost half of the male population feel that they don’t spend enough time with their children.

In line with the survey, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has called for paternity pay to be increased from the statutory £123 a week to 90% of fathers' actual pay.

Once again, the Brits could do with taking a look at practices in other European nations where a much more generous approach to paternity leave is in place: in Norway and Germany, fathers on paternity leave are given 60-80% of their income and the period of time they are allowed to take off is far longer than in the UK.

Especially as the model of family life where Dad brings home the bacon and Mum brings up baby is rapidly shifting, the call for a new approach to paternity leave seems sensible.
  • Are the calls for an increase to paternity leave and pay valid?
  • A significant number of men seem frightened to ask for their entitlement to flexible working arrangements concerning child care. What can be done to prevent this?
  • What do you think about the complaint of individuals without children that they are denied a benefit that those employees with children have?
  • The Equalities and Human Rights Commission is quoted as saying that companies which have adopted forward-thinking policies towards families are reporting increased productivity, reduction in staff turnover and reduced training costs. Why might this be?


  1. Interesting statistics and thoughts. As women in the workplace are still held back by child care issues and negative perceptions, it's no wonder men are reluctant to ask for their entitlement - possibly because of the fear of being seen as less capable or devoted to the job, an assumption often made about working mothers. Yet the idea that companies with forward thinking policies are reporting increased productivity etc shows that by valuing ALL employees you get a successful and happy workforce.

  2. It would be interesting to see on what basis the EHRC make the direct correlation between family friendly polices and increased productivity. Without seeing the figures it would seem far more probable that organisations who have such policies actually do far more to engage and develop their employees by the culture that the organisation promotes (with family friendly policies being one small part).

    I do agree that many organisations do expect a lot of their employees, often too much. But I do think that sometimes (not always) it’s a self imposed expectation and if we just asked for time, especially at the birth of a child, then it would be given willingly. The tricky bit comes when your child gets every bug under the sun and someone needs to stay home to administer the Calpol and cuddles!


  3. Anonymous(es) - or should that possibly be anonymice?

    Thanks for the comments.

    It's also interesting, isn't it, that on the same day that there is a call for more men to be able to take their paternity entitlement, there is also a plea for more women in the boardroom. Not sure how these two factors are linked, but there's definitely a complex challenge to be addressed