8 in 10 Dads say that their employer is not doing enough to support fathers in the workplace
Meanwhile, one in seven (14%) dads who used the shared parental leave scheme said they faced workplace discrimination as a result of doing so, according to new data from Pregnant Then Screwed.
Pregnant Then Screwed have conducted a landmark survey with 7,763 dads and other parents who may take paternity leave. The survey paints a bleak picture for working dads.
One in four Dads say that they continued to work whilst on paternity leave with half saying that there was an expectation from their employer that they would. This is despite it being unlawful for an employer to expect you to work whilst on paternity leave. One in five dads who wanted to take longer paternity leave felt unable to because of the negative impact it would have on their career. Yet, 80% of fathers say that they did not have enough time to bond with their child.
8 in 10 Dads say that their employer is not doing enough to support fathers in the workplace with almost half (46%) saying that they have, or would consider switching roles to access better paternity leave and pay. This is something employers should be acutely aware of as the skills and recruitment crisis takes hold.
80% of fathers are only offered two weeks paternity leave by their employer and 1 in 4 Dad’s (28%) do not take the full two weeks. 1 in 10 Dads take no paternity leave at all with more than half of those claiming that this is because they couldn’t afford to take it. The statutory weekly rate of paternity pay is £156.66, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower). Almost a third of Dads (32%) who took ten days paternity leave or less say that they struggled financially as a result.
Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed said: “According to UCL the UK’s
parental leave policies are the least generous in Europe. Paternity leave has huge
benefits for families and the economy. It improves the wellbeing and educational
attainment of children, it improves the mental and physical health of mothers, and it
ensures a more egalitarian split of the unpaid labour. Furthermore, couples who have a
more equal split of the unpaid labour spend more time in paid work.
New parents are able to access the Government’s shared parental leave programme for children born on or after the 5th of April 2015. But take up rates are exceptionally low - between 2% - 8% for eligible couples. The survey found that 16% of dads still don’t know about shared parental leave. With 1 in 4 of those who are due to have a baby in the next 6 months saying they do not know about SPL. And only half of dads think their employer understands how SPL works. 14% of fathers who took shared parental leave said that they faced discrimination as a result of doing so.
Joeli Brearley continues: ‘’The Government first promised a review of the shared parental
leave scheme in March 2017, but 5 years later we are yet to see the results of the
evaluation. The UK is falling way behind other Western nations when it comes to parental
leave, but the Government seems happy to ignore this issue despite the obvious benefits
to families and the economy.’’
Fathers told us
“There was clear resentment and I was made to feel responsible for problems that occurred during
that time. I also overheard my boss saying derogatory/dismissive things about men taking more
“Being able to access the shared leave was tricky. The office claimed they hadn’t heard of it and made it deliberately hard to complete the paperwork.”
“Work was deliberately not covered for me but this is not the same for other people, even when off sick or on paternity. Comments were made about me being a father and that I should only be having two weeks”
Almost half (45%) of dads say they experienced a new mental health issue within the first two years of their child’s life with 7 in 10 saying longer paternity leave would have had a positive impact on their mental health. 97% say that they do not believe two weeks paternity leave is long enough and 80% of fathers claim that they did not have enough time to bond with their child. 99% of respondents feel that the UK Government should improve its paternity leave offering.
Pregnant Then Screwed have launched a new campaign called ‘’Let’s Talk About Six’’
which is looking to equalise the parental leave system.
“For too long fathers and same sex parents have been denied a fair amount of paid
parental leave. This adds to inequality both at home and at work. It’s time to change things up. That’s why we’re calling on the Government to offer all new parents a minimum of six weeks paid leave at 90% of their salary when they become a new parent.” says Joeli.
Their campaign is supported by a petition which currently has over 97,500 signatures.
The TUC who helped formulate the survey questions said:
"New dads shouldn't have to spend any of their precious paternity leave working, or face financial hardship for taking time to bond with their new baby. It's clear our current paternity system isn't working. Without better rights to properly paid leave, many new parents will continue to miss out on spending important time with their children. All dads and partners need access to longer, better-paid paternity leave. Raising statutory paternity pay to at least the level of the real living wage would be a good start." TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady.
Full data overview:
From the 19th of May until the 9th of June 2022 we surveyed 7,763 people who are
eligible to take paternity leave. This includes 7,461 Dads, 233 expectant first time Fathers,
64 people in a same sex relationship, 5 non primary carers.
The Pregnant Then Screwed survey was self selecting and ran via Typeform.
Access to and use of Paternity Leave:
- 80% of Dads are only offered two weeks paternity leave by their employer
- Paternity leave offers are best in London where 30% of Dads get paternity leave that is enhanced both in terms of pay and length
- It is worst in the East and West Midlands where only 8% and 9% of dads get enhanced paternity leave in terms of pay and length
- The worst sector for paternity leave is social care where only 2% can access paternity leave which is enhanced both in terms of pay and length
- 88% of those eligible for paternity leave use it, this drops to 79% for those who work in sales
- 1 in 10 employed dads take no paternity leave, with more than half of those dads (57.1%) saying they couldn’t afford to take it
28% of dads do not use their full paternity leave allocation, rising to 41% for those in Property and Construction and 47% in Teaching and Education
- 39% of Black dad’s do not use their full paternity leave allocation. Despite this 91% of Black dad’s and non-primary carers say that they want to spend more time with their children.
- 97% of dads do not believe that 2 weeks is long enough
Attitudes in the workplace:
17% of dads who did not take paternity leave said they were worried about the reaction at work, or had been told not to take it
- 6.1% were worried about discrimination from their employer
- 5.9% were concerned about a negative reaction from their colleagues
- 5% were told by their employer that they could not take paternity leave
26.5% of employed Dad’s say they continued to work whilst on paternity leave.
- 43.3% of these said that there was an expectation to work whilst on paternity leave
- 6.9% said their employer put pressure on them to work whilst on paternity leave
- Those who work in the following professions are more likely to have done work whilst on paternity leave Law (40%), Sales (40%) Teaching and Education (49%)
20% of Dads believe their employer is doing enough to support Dads in the workplace
- This number is even lower in some sectors Law Enforcement (11%), Teaching (12%) and Transport (12%)
Shared parental leave:
14% of fathers who took shared parental leave said that they faced discrimination as a result of doing so
- Disabled people are twice as likely to experience this discrimination at 29%
- 38% of those in a same sex relationship experienced this discrimination
16% of dads do not know about shared parental leave
- 25% of dads who are expecting a baby in the next six months do not know about shared parental leave
- 50.1% of respondents answered “yes” to “Do you think your employer understand how shared parental leave works”
45% of Dads experienced a new mental health issue within the first two years of their child’s life
- 61% of disabled parents and 63% of single parents experienced a new mental health issue in the first two years of their child’s life
Cover photo from Canva