Majority of men still not taking parental leave entitlement

The number of men taking statutory paternity leave has increased by 14% over the last year, but this is still a small fraction of those entitled to it, according to research by international law firm Pinsent Masons.

The research found that, despite the fact that the number of employees claiming statutory paternity pay rose from 170,000 in 2008/2009 to 194,000 in the year to March 2011, there is still a gap in the time off taken by men compared to women after the birth of a child.

In April 2011, the government extended statutory paternity leave, allowing men to split the leave entitlement with their partner if she returns to work without taking full entitlement to maternity leave. Men can now claim up to 26 additional weeks of additional paternity leave in this instance.

Katie Douglas, legal director at Pinsent Masons, added: “These figures show that there has been a significant shift in attitudes towards paternity leave, but we are still some way from parity.

“Despite the government’s determination to encourage fathers to take paternity leave, many men still do not exercise their right. They may bulk at the prospect because they fear that doing so is still frowned upon by employers.

“A lot of smaller employers are concerned that an increase in paternity rights would further damage their productivity in what is a very weak economy.”

Read also News analysis: Employers come to grips with paternity legislation

Read more on paternity and maternity leave