Three quarters of businesses not transparent about paternity rights
New research, commissioned by meeting provider, PowWowNow has revealed only a quarter (25.9%) of companies provided information about Shared Parental Leave (SPL) without it being requested first, suggesting a lack of transparency around the existence of the initiative is preventing its uptake.
The research investigates the uptake of and attitudes towards SPL for fathers in the workplace. SPL was introduced in 2015 to allow parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of statutory pay between them following the birth of a child, and is designed to allow couples to split child-caring roles more equally. Uptake of SPL remains low; HMRC figures obtained by PowWowNow through FOI requests suggest only 3.8% of eligible couples took Shared Parental Pay in 2018/19.
The data suggests workplace culture is also resistant to fathers taking time to care for their child; 13% of dads did not feel comfortable asking their employer for SPL, and only 48% of workers strongly felt their employer was supportive when they did apply for the initiative. Three quarters of fathers said they believe there remains a cultural stigma around men taking time off to look after their children.
When returning to work, three quarters of men (75.3%) felt pressured to come back to the workplace quickly after taking SPL, with the biggest pressures coming from financial circumstances (32%), followed by pressure from an employer (31%) and work culture (28%).
The benefits from father’s involvement in childcare are clear from the data; of those fathers who did take SPL, 96% reported a positive longer-term impact on their lives resulting from the experience. 43% had a greater involvement in the care of their children going forwards; 44% had improvements in their relationship with their partner; 46% reported a better quality of family life; and 41% said they had improved life satisfaction.
Andrew Johnson, MD of PowWowNow, commented on the findings: “Businesses have a crucial role to play in empowering fathers to be able to take care of their children. With a clear shift in cultural perceptions of gender roles in parenting, leaders need to ensure that processes and policies support fathers who make the decision to start a family.
At PowWowNow, we have made a pledge to inform our employees of their right to request SPL, and we call on other businesses to do the same. Meanwhile, workplaces must introduce family-friendly policies and flexible working practices. Fathers who are better able to balance work and life commitments will be happier and more productive members of the office.”