Mumsnet survey reveals a third of UK dads are forced to use annual leave instead of paternity leave
For our 2014 Family Friendly Awards, we carried out a survey to investigate the reality of family-friendly working for UK households, exposing - unsurprisingly - many shortcomings, not least where paternity leave is concerned.
Over a third (39%) of dads are obliged to use their paid annual leave in order to afford to take time off after the birth of their children, and just one in six employers (17%) top up the level at which paternity leave is paid.
The awards have seen us join forces with Nick Clegg to celebrate companies pioneering the best in family-friendly policies, and urge others to raise their game.
The Deputy Prime Minister said: "It's quite unfortunate that so many parents are unable to take time away from work to care for and support their young children. And it is bizarre that even in the 21st century, hundreds and thousands of hard working parents are having to abide by Edwardian rules when it comes to juggling their work and family lives."
Under UK law, all new fathers are entitled to two weeks' paternity leave, paid at the statutory rate of just £138.18 a week - half the £260 weekly salary of someone earning the National Minimum Wage. Our survey revealed 90% of respondents believe paternity leave should be paid at the same rate as statutory maternity pay is initially (90% of full-time salary).
Justine Roberts, Mumsnet founder and CEO, said:
"It's good to see the importance of fathers in babies' lives being recognised but in practice, we're not yet getting basic paternity leave right. It ought to enable dads to spend time with their new babies, but because of the woefully low rate at which it's paid, they're forced to take annual leave or miss out altogether."
Just 17% of dads take five days' leave or fewer, and of those that took fewer than five days, 65% didn't take longer because of financial constraints, and 28% because of not being able to secure the time off from their employer.
Eight out of 10 couples (81%) would have preferred the father to take a longer period of paternity leave following the birth of their child - a statistic that supports Nick Clegg's assertion that "the tide is certainly turning, but as this survey shows, we need to go much further."
Shared Parental Leave
Due to be introduced for babies born on or after 5 April 2015, one in six families (17%) would consider taking Shared Parental Leave.
15% of mums would not consider taking it, as their maternity package is better than that offered by their partner's employer, while one in four mothers (26%) wouldn't take it as they earn less that their partner, so for them, Shared Parental Leave wouldn't make financial sense.
UK companies - how family friendly are they?
When asked about how family friendly UK companies are in general, the survey suggested parents perceive things to actually be going backwards, with only 13% of workers saying their employer is very family friendly and could not do more - down from 23% in 2011.
16% have employers who say they're family friendly but in reality, they aren't (up from 14% in 2011), while two thirds (63%) of respondents don't feel UK companies are family friendly (down from 84% in 2011).
Last updated: about 3 years ago