Rise in paternity leave take-up signals changing attitudes

The
take-up of paternity leave at UK firms has increased from 9 per cent to 44 per
cent during the past three years according to CIPD research, highlighting the
move to a more creative approach to employee benefits.

Getting
a Kick out of Work, a survey of 1,000 HR professionals looking at the range of
non-financial benefits offered by organisations finds that flexible working is
being adopted by many UK companies as its advantages to business become clear,
but many employees have been slow to make the most of the changes.

CIPD
Assistant Director General Duncan Brown said: “Legislation, together with
evidence of the beneficial effect on motivation and productivity mean that more
and more organisations are putting in place policies which support flexible
working. But our data indicates a policy gap in terms of the management and
take up of these arrangements.

“Our
survey shows that Government legislation on paternity leave has made an impact,
though it should also be pointed out that the proportion of fathers taking up
this benefit is still relatively low.”

Brown
said that while almost half of all organisations allow their employees to work
from home, only a minority of workers take up this offer (14 per cent).

"This
shows that flexible working needs to be encouraged and embraced at all levels
if it is to be successful," he said. "Organisations need to foster a
culture focused on objectives and outputs rather than presenteeism, where being
at the desk is more important than actual contribution.”

The
survey shows that in just under 25 per cent of organisations senior managers do
not support flexible working policies, which may explain why such practices are
not widely adopted.

Other
findings:


From 1999, the number of organisations offering paternity leave jumped from 66
per cent to 81 per cent, while parental leave provision increased from 57 per
cent to 78 per cent


The number of organisations offering staff the option of career breaks has
halved from 40 per cent in 1999, while 17 per cent offer sabbaticals (24 per
cent in 1999)


The public sector leads the way in flexible working arrangements by offering a
wider variety of options and generally experiencing higher take-up of flexible
working hours – only 26 per cent of private sector organisations offer
flexi-time compared to 79 per cent of public sector organisations.


Childcare remains an area where few employers offer options. Less than 10 per
cent have a workplace nursery or offering childcare subsidies and 2 per cent
provide after-school care.

“In
today’s tight labour market, employers are realising they have to be responsive
and innovative in trying to meet employee expectations." Brown added.
"Flexible benefits that help with work-life balance are part of this
innovation.”

By Quentin Reade

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