Paternity leave to increase?

Reports that the Government is considering giving working fathers six months’ unpaid paternity leave have been condemned by business groups, who see it as yet another legislative burden causing headaches for SMEs.

‘The issue for businesses is that plans to extend parental leave could not only be an administrative nightmare, but could leave firms without key staff for long periods of time,’ responded David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce. ‘While employers want to actively support flexible working, the Government must realise that extending parental leave at such an unprecedented rate will add more confusion and pressure to firms who are already struggling to compete.’

However, a survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) suggests that extra unpaid-leave would not entice too many new dads away from work.

The CIPD’s research shows that less than half of fathers would take paternity leave at the statutory pay rate of £106 a week if they had another child. In fact, some fathers are opting to use up annual leave at full pay instead of taking time off as paternity leave.

Furthermore, the survey revealed, unsurprisingly, that increasing the rate of paternity pay would encourage more fathers to tear themselves away from work to spend time with their newborn babies. But it also showed that more than half think the current two weeks’ leave is about right and six per cent actually think it’s too much.

‘We would have expected the rate of paternity pay to be one of the factors in the decision to take paternity leave,’ comments Rebecca Clake, resourcing adviser at the CIPD. ‘But with less than half of fathers willing to consider taking leave at the current £106 a week, and four out of five wanting to take up the opportunity at 90 per cent of full pay, the implications for any further family friendly legislation are clear. Flexible employment policies are becoming embedded in the UK world of work. But fathers tell us they can’t afford to spend time with their newborn children at current rates of paternity pay.’

Marc Barber

Raven Connelly

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.

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