Employers have been told not to worry about the right to extended unpaid paternity leave which was announced by the government last week, as it is likely to be ignored by new fathers.
Business groups such as the CBI and the British Chambers of Commerce warned that the right to six months’ unpaid paternity leave – part of the government’s Work and Families Bill – would be a further unnecessary burden for employers.
But, according to both the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the Work Foundation, low uptake of the current entitlement would indicate that business has little to be concerned about.
New fathers can presently take two weeks’ leave and receive 106 per week. But fewer than 20% of those eligible take the opportunity, according to the Calpol Parenthood Survey of 2004 – far short of the projected 80% uptake originally forecast when the government introduced paternity leave in 2003.
CIPD research also shows that fewer than half (46%) of fathers would take paternity leave at the current rate if they had another child. In contrast, the proportion who said they would take paternity leave at 90% of full pay increased to 80%, and at full pay the figure rose to 87%.
Rebecca Clake, resourcing adviser at the CIPD, said the government should look at providing more financial support for new fathers, rather than extend unpaid paternity leave, if it wanted to improve take-up.
And Alexandra Jones, associate director for research at the Work Foundation, said flexible working policies should recognise that different individuals have different needs at different times in their working lives.
“Offering different options responds better to employer and employees’ [needs],” she said.
“For example, being able to take paternity leave at a rate of one day a week over a period of time may be more manageable for employers and encourage greater uptake.”
For more on paternity rights and the call for shared parental leave, go to www.personneltoday.com/32004.article
Personnel Today’s One Stop Guide to Maternity Rights includes details of paternity provision. To find out more go to www.personneltoday.com/resources