Duke of Sussex announces he’ll be taking two weeks off to spend time with his new baby but rumours abound the royal couple might model shared parental leave
Paternity leave has received the royal seal of approval with news that Prince Harry is set to take time off from his royal duties when his new baby is born.
The exact due date for the next prince or princess has not been revealed but at the weekend Prince Harry revealed he’d be taking paternity leave to spend time with his child.
He’s apparently said he believes it’s a “very modern dad thing to do”.
Paid paternity leave has been available in law since 2003.
However it’s estimated that up to a third of new fathers do not use their full two week allowance.
Another 20 per cent are thought to be ineligible either because they have not been with their current employers for the requisite six months or because they are self employed. Prince Harry technically comes under this bracket because he hasn’t had a paid job since leaving the Army, instead the Queen and Prince Charles fund his life as a royal.
However he is obviously keen to be seen to be getting involved with his child from the start. Evidence shows that men who spend more time with their baby enjoy a better relationship with their offspring through their whole life and a better relationship with their partner.
Olga Fitzroy of the Parental Pay Equality group that campaigns for parental benefits to be extended to the self employed welcomed the news. “We think it’s incredibly important for fathers to be involved in the care of their children from day one, both to bond with their babies and gain confidence and skills in childcare, and of course to support the mothers in the early days.
‘We are pleased that Prince Harry is taking paternity leave, but would remind people that 100,000 dads every year get no paternity or parental leave whatsoever as they are self-employed,” she said.
The Fatherhood Institute also commented, sending a message via social media, “Well done Harry, a symbolically important move.”
Prince Harry, sixth in line to the throne, isn’t the first senior royal to take paternity leave. Prince William took time out from his role as an air ambulance pilot following the birth of his first two children, however by the time his third child was born he was a full time royal and he was back doing engagements within a few days of Prince Louis’ arrival.
But it has been suggested that Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, officially known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex may go further. Royal watchers have speculated that the Duchess may return to royal duties fairly soon after the birth and the couple will model a sort of shared parental leave arrangement.
It was seem Prince Harry understands how important role models are in encouraging others to change their behaviour. A friend of the royal claims he is doing it to send a message to other dads that it’s a useful and normal thing to do.