New fathers should be given better paid paternity leave and extra parental leave, according to a report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
Its research found that fathers want to take a more active role in caring for their children, but many are working long hours, struggling to balance work and family and fear that requesting flexible working would damage their careers.
The Fathers, family and work report, found that 45% of men fail to take two weeks’ paternity leave after the birth of their child, usually because they can’t afford to.
Also, 40% fear that asking for flexible working arrangements would result in their commitment to their job being questioned and would negatively affect their chances of a promotion.
But the equalities watchdog also points to an opportunity for employers to gain a competitive advantage in recruitment, as two in three fathers consider the availability of flexible working to be important when looking for a new job.
The EHRC proposes that fathers should be entitled to:
- Two weeks’ paternity leave at the birth of their child at 90% pay
- Four months of dedicated ‘parental leave’, with at least eight weeks of leave being at 90% pay
- Another four months’ parental leave – that could be taken by either parent – eight weeks of which is taken at 90% pay.
At present, new fathers can claim two weeks’ statutory paternity leave paid at a flat rate of £123 per week.
Andrea Murray, EHRC acting group director of strategy, said: “We have spoken to parents, employers, unions and leading academic experts in the field, and we believe that our Working Better policies lay out a road-map to 2020 which will put Britain ahead of the curve in terms of modern working practices.
“Two-thirds of fathers see flexible working as an important benefit when looking for a new job. This highlights an opportunity for British businesses to use flexible working as an incentive for attracting and retaining the most talented of employees.”