Big increase in paternity discrimination cases

As more dads take extended paternity leave they are discovering the sort of discrimination women have known for years

managing anger in the workplace


Campaigners hoped that with the advent of shared parental leave and more generous paternity leave packages that discrimination against mums would wither away. Instead new research suggests dads are increasingly coming up against the same problems women have known about for years.

Employment lawyers are reporting huge increases in cases involving dads.

Issues range from harassment after returning from paternity leave to missing out on promotions and unfair dismissal.

Directline Life Insurance surveyed employment lawyers and legal experts to get a picture of how well current legislation is protecting parents from discrimination. The results suggest the Equality Act is not up to scratch.

63% of those asked said they’d seen an increase in cases involving men demoted after returning to work. 61% had seen more situations in which men claimed they’d missed out on a promotion just because they had taken time away from work to look after their family.

59% reported more cases of men being sacked while on paternity leave. 56% said they were seeing more men bringing harassment claims upon their return to work.

Legal rights

Employees should not be treated differently because they exercise their legal right to paternity leave. They are able to turn to the Equality Act if they feel they have been mistreated but clearly that is a big step to take and it would be preferable if employers recognised their responsibilities and took steps to avoid issues arising in the first place.

The situation is not better for women. 70% of employment lawyers said they’d seen more instances of women made redundant while on maternity leave. They also reported widespread use of non-disclosure agreements to stop women speaking out about their treatment.

Jane Morgan, Business Manager at Direct Line Life Insurance, commented: “In today’s world it is concerning that we are seeing an increase in mums and dads being seemingly penalised as a result of spending time with their children. Employers and employees have a responsibility to educate themselves about their rights, which could help to reduce the rise of discrimination claims and ensure parents have reasonable expectations.”

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