52% of fathers would take up shared parental leave

More than half (52%) of respondents who are fathers would take advantage of shared parental leave (SPL), according to research by Working Families.

Its survey of 358 fathers also found that a quarter (25%) of respondents that would make use of shared parental leave would do so because they and their partner want to share childcare responsibilities.

The research also found:

  • 36% of respondents that would use SPL would do so to spend time bonding with their child, 10% would use it to support their partner’s career, and 6% would take up SPL because it made financial sense.
  • 48% of respondents would not make use of shared parental leave, and 11% of these respondents cite concern about their employer and the way they would be perceived at work as their reason for not doing so.
  • 17% of respondents that would not take up shared parental leave would not do so because they are ineligible, due to either the respondent or their partner being self-employed or out of work.
  • 13% of respondents cite the fact that their partner is the primary carer as the reason why they would not take up shared parental leave, and 37% would not take SPL because they could not afford to.
  • 27% of respondents do not know about shared parental leave.

Sarah Jackson OBE (pictured), chief executive at Working Families, said: “It’s obvious many fathers want to spend time bonding with their child in the early days and to share care with their partner. The fact that more than half of fathers want to make use of SPL shows how far we have come on the journey towards shared care and shared careers; good news for families but also good news for the economy.

“Father willingness and aspiration is there. As we embark on EU exit negotiations the government has said it wants to protect and enhance the rights people have at work. An excellent place to start would be making SPL a day one right for fathers.

“But families are unlikely to make use of SPL unless it makes financial sense for them to do so. The government should consider equalising statutory maternity pay and shared parental pay, to prevent SPL being a second-class option and encourage more fathers to use it. Employers going beyond the minimum pay for SPL would also make it a more realistic option for more families.”