Fathers turning down chance of paternity leave

There is evidence that new fathers are unwilling to take up the parental leave rights available to them because families are worried about the subsequent loss of earnings.

A survey by think-tank, Demos has revealed that barely 10 per cent of men are opting to take off more than the two weeks granted them by statutory paternity leave for fear of its impact on household budgets.

The main reason is that statutory paternity leave accounts for just a quarter of men's earnings.

Even given the two weeks of paternity leave open to them, only a half of new fathers choose to accept the time off.

When it comes to the extra leave that men are allowed to take, the picture is bleaker still.

According to the survey, those fathers who opt for six months' leave, to which they are entitled under new regulations introduced in April, could lose as much as 90 per cent of their earnings that year. Which explains why only one in ten men exercise their rights.

Dan Leighton, the author of the study, said: "Flexible working is the only option for Britain to address the social challenges of shared parenting and an ageing population that requires care. As it stands, parental leave is expensive for the employee, the employer and the state."