A large majority of employees are unaware of their paternity
and maternity rights, a survey has revealed.
The research found that only 2% of workers questioned were
aware of the correct period of unpaid leave available to parents during the
first five years of their child’s life.
Despite government proposals to make all statutory
information on the subject available ‘at the click of a button’, the annual
Employee Attitudes Survey has revealed a widespread ignorance of details
It also highlighted the information gap between the
different economic groups, with four out of ten employees in the prosperous
East Anglia region holding an accurate idea of their leave entitlements
compared to one in three in Scotland.
Current maternity laws entitle working mothers to eighteen
weeks paid maternity leave and parents may also take thirteen weeks unpaid
leave during the child’s first five years after one year’s service.
However, of the 2000 employees who participated in the
nationwide Gallup survey, four out of ten underestimated the unpaid leave
period, placing the figure at five weeks.
Similarly, more than half of participants were unaware of
the period of paid leave available.
The results of the survey have prompted criticism of the
government’s failure to make the information more readily available to
Ian Wolter, managing director of recruitment specialists
Eden Brown, said, “It is extraordinary that there is such a massive ignorance
about parental leave entitlement. One might ask why the government is not doing
more to publicise this important family information. In fact beyond the
statutory leave, all employees are entitled to take reasonable time off work to
deal with an emergency or unexpected situation involving a dependent.”
The research was
conducted by Gallup in April this year and was based on telephone interviews
with 2063 adults over the age of sixteen.
By Robert De La Poer