Stigma puts working dads off taking extra paternity leave

New CIPD report finds working dads want flexible working and more paternity leave. But barriers remain.

working Dad - shared parental leave


Men want equal parental leave. But fear they’ll be stigmatised if they take extended paternity leave.

Those are the findings from new research by the HR professional standards body the CIPD. They’ve published a new report titled ‘Managing Extended Paternity Leave’.

They polled hundreds of working dads. Around three quarters felt there was a stigma attached to them taking extended paternity leave. Nearly all respondents (95 per cent) agreed that workplace culture needs to change to normalise men taking time off.

The report also found more than half of men on paternity leave at the time (56 per cent) felt anxious about returning to the workplace. Only one in three working dads felt confident they would get the same level of support from their employer as female staff.

Benefits of extended paternity leave

This is despite the benefits of extended paternity leave. Fathers, mothers, children and businesses all gain. Employers can reap improvements in employee engagement, loyalty and productivity and report lower staff turnover. Extended parental leave can also help reduce the gender pay gap by sharing the time taken off work for childcare more equitably, the report said. That point was emphasised in last week’s report into gender stereotypes among children too.

The CIPD report offers solutions to help employers manage paternity leave and support dads. Interestingly one suggested policy is to provide proper cover for dads that are off. That is a clear demonstration that an employer regards patenrity and maternity leave equally. Line managers were yet again pinpointed as a key driver of change. The recommendations also include ‘keep in touch’ days, and allowing phased returns to work.

“Employers can do much more to break down these barriers through better communication, training of line managers to challenge negative attitudes when they arise, and through the open support for extended paternity leave by senior leaders,” the report said. “Building open cultures around taking extended paternity leave and adopting flexible working as a norm will not only better support working parents, but all employees.”

Effects of parenting

The report found nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of the men polled said they would like to have more information from their employers on employment policies and their rights around parental leave. Nearly two-thirds (59 per cent) said they would like to have scheduled conversations with line managers to talk about the effects parenting would have on their work. More than half supported the introduction of parents’ networks or forums.

The report supports previous findings that working dads want more flexible working. The vast majority (95 per cent) said flexible working had increased the likelihood of them staying with their current employer. 70 per cent said it increased their motivation at work. Eight out of 10 said it improved their productivity.

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