Many fathers are unaware of their parental leave rights

Nearly half (46 percent) of working fathers are unaware they are entitled to take shared parental leave on the arrival of a child, according to new research. The survey, conducted by Aviva, also claims that one in 10 dads (11 percent) took no time off whatsoever when their most recent child arrived. Businesses are therefore being urged to do more to make sure their male staff know their rights, to enable them to spend precious time with their newborn or adopted children. Crucially, the survey of UK parents with dependent children found that 86 percent of fathers would have taken more time off at the arrival of their children, but felt restricted by financial factors and employer constraints.

Nine out of 10 parents questioned (93 percent) felt that employers should give both mums and dads equal parental leave when a new child arrives. But the majority of fathers (56 percent) took less than a month off work when their most recent child was born or adopted: the time taken by this group was typically 12 days. By comparison, mums took more than a year off work on average.

The survey claims that:

  • 93 percent of new dads would have taken longer off work if their employer had allowed it
  • 67 percent of new dads would have only taken leave if it was paid
  • 26 percent of new dads would have taken unpaid time away from work

Sarah Morris, Chief People Officer, Aviva, said: “Working and looking after children means a constant juggling act and it’s clear that many fathers feel overlooked and under-supported by their employer in this respect. Progress is being made, but our research suggests there’s still a way to go. Family-friendly working policies can offer huge benefits to employers and workers alike, whether this means extended parental leave, flexible working, or options for job shares. We hope to see more employers introducing inclusive policies for both men and women, to help working parents strike a balance and get the most out of their lives, inside and outside work.”

The Aviva research also claims:

  • 52 percent of parents believed there should be more support from the government for equal parental leave, while 69 percent wanted greater assistance for flexible working.
  • When respondents were asked to rank the most important factors when looking for a role, flexible working came second only to salary.
  • The poll found an interest amongst parents for job-sharing options, although only 4 percent of dads questioned were doing a job-share, compared to 9 percent of mums.
  • A further 48 percent of parents said they would consider a job share, but of these, almost two thirds said their employer did not offer them.