Male employees shun paternity leave through fear of being judged, report reveals

In spite of increased legislation to support paternity leave, male employees are likely to shun the opportunity for fear of being judged, particularly when working in small businesses, according to a new report.

Of the 520 participants who responded to a survey by Ramsdens Solicitors, 20% of those working for a micro business (consisting of fewer than 10 employees) took two weeks paternity leave for their last child, whereas 57% of people employed at a large company (250-999 members of staff) took the two week allowance.

Labour also announced their plans to increase paid paternity leave to four weeks, on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis, to financially support new fathers and help them play a more hands-on role in parenting. They have also pledged they would increase statutory paternity pay from £120 a week to £260 a week.

Gareth Dando, Head of Employment at Ramsdens, commented on the news, stating: “Despite the Government extending the right to request flexible working to all employees in 2014, and further changes being implemented in 2015 regarding both partners’ right to take parental leave at the same time, males are still being dissuaded from taking their full paternity allowance, and it seems this may be down to the size of the company they work for.”

Of the people working for a micro business who said they wouldn’t take extended paternity leave, 16% said the reason for not choosing this option was because they would feel uncomfortable having that much time off work. This was compared to only 11% at large businesses.

Furthermore, 25% of respondents from micro businesses said that they would feel unsupported by their boss if they were to take longer than two weeks’ paternity leave, compared to only 5% at bigger firms.

Gareth adds: “This view may be due to them understanding the pressures that their workplace would be under if they were to take more time off to help with childcare.”

This idea is strengthened by the majority (33%) of male micro business employees believing their colleagues would view them negatively if they were to take more time off, because they would have to pick up their workload. Whereas, in a large business, where it could be seen as easier to cover a member of staff’s absence, the most popular answer was that they felt they would be viewed indifferently (40%), followed by positively (30%), by their employees.

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