Paternity leave policies risk not supporting fathers – or mothers

Alex Monro
Head of Communications
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Research published this summer by Pregnant Then Screwed shows widespread dissatisfaction at paternity leave policies across the UK.

80% of Dads are offered only two weeks’ paternity leave by their employer. One in four said they continued to work on paternity leave due to employer expectations – and 80% said they didn’t have time to bond with their child.

“According to UCL, the UK’s parental leave policies are the least generous in Europe,” wrote Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant then Screwed. “Paternity leave has huge benefits for families and the economy. It improves the wellbeing and educational attainment of children, it improves the mental and physical health of mothers, and it ensures a more egalitarian split of the unpaid labour. Furthermore, couples who have a more equal split of the unpaid labour spend more time in paid work.”

The labour split is a crucial implication of parental leave policies. By focusing only on maternity leave, companies are choosing to emphasise female parenthood – and male employment. It does not need to be this way.

Shared approach

“I am a father of two daughters, and I recently took six months paid paternity leave from my role,” said Dave Jenkins, Portfolio Manager at Brunel. “It gave me the time to focus on being a father and gave me a fantastic experience that I would never have had otherwise. Since I was able to delay it until a few months after birth, it also gave us greater flexibility for my wife to head back into work – before I then did the same.

“Pregnant then Screwed provided some great facts around paternity, but one especially stuck with me. ‘Nearly 40% of UK Dads have asked for their hours to be changed so they can spend more time with their newborn, but almost half (44%) of those requests are rejected.’ This is something that has to change if we ever want to move forward,” he said.

Brunel continues to scrutinise its parental leave and flexible working policies to ensure parenthood and families are taken seriously – and to build loyalty.

“Getting parental leave policies right is a crucial step in addressing the gender imbalance in finance – and in changing perceptions across society,” said Laura Chappell, CEO at Brunel. “We also believe in our social responsibility as an employer. We can’t insist on our asset managers ensuring our investments are building a better society while ignoring the crucial role that parents play in that same process. Finally, we know that supporting our staff in this way also builds goodwill, loyalty and community. ”


To find out more about this issue, see: 8 in 10 Dads say their employer is not doing enough to support fathers in the workplace.

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