Home Family & Relationship The State of Parental Leave: Over Half of Dads Felt Pressured to Return to Work

The State of Parental Leave: Over Half of Dads Felt Pressured to Return to Work

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New research indicates that UK fathers could be getting short-changed regarding the early weeks of raising their children. 

Life insurance broker Reassured has investigated which countries and industries are the best and worst for parental leave. The experts also spoke with UK fathers to determine their stance on the parental options they’re given.

According to the research, there are significant disparities in parental leave experiences, with over one in six (17.1%) fathers being granted five–six weeks of paid parental leave, whilst 20% were allowed one–two weeks.

Over half (52%) stated they felt pressured to return to work early, 41% were denied longer leave, and 60% wished their leave was on par with their partners.

Which UK cities are the best and worst for paternity leave?

The study revealed significant regional variations. Manchester emerged as the best city, with 41% of parents enjoying 9-10 weeks of paid leave. Cities like Norwich and Liverpool provided only one–two weeks for 33.3% and 30% of parents, respectively.

Leeds stood out as the city where the negative impacts of longer paternity leave were the most pronounced, with 70% of fathers stating that their careers could be affected. This figure was 45% in London and 43% in Birmingham.

Which UK industries are the worst for paternity leave?

Shockingly, 100% of fathers in the charity and law sectors reported that taking longer leave could adversely affect their careers. Other industries with high levels of career impact included law enforcement and security (75%), recruitment, HR, transport, and accountancy (67%).

For those in the creative arts and design industry, only 20% said they felt their career could be affected. This was also true for those in a teaching and education role.

The best countries for paternity leave

So, how does the UK compare to other countries for paternity leave?

Out of the 43 countries analysed, the UK came in 24th, with its average paternity leave length of two weeks, and most UK companies offering just an 18.5% overall average payment rate. This is a sharp contrast to the number one country, Spain, which offers dads an average of 16 weeks of paid paternity leave at 100% of their salary.

Spain’s paternity leave benefits dwarf that of every other country. The Netherlands, which came in second place, only offers an average of 6 weeks paid leave, less than half that of Spain, and at 79.9% the average salary, though this is still far ahead of what is offered to UK fathers.

Delving further into the topic, Reassured spoke to Danielle Baron to offer tips on how employees can make paternal leave more accessible to new parents.

  • Flexible policies. Offer parental leave policies that are flexible and inclusive of diverse family structures, including same-sex couples and adoptive parents.
  • Inclusive communication. Ensure that all communication related to parental leave is inclusive and avoids gender stereotypes. Use the term “parental leave” rather than “maternity leave”.
  • Equal opportunities. Encourage all employees, regardless of gender, to take leave. Promote shared parental leave and strive for equal opportunities.
  • Return-to-work support. Comprehensive support for employees returning to work is essential. This support can include phased returns, flexible work arrangements, and access to counselling services when necessary.
  • Mentorship and training. Offer mentorship and training programmes to help parents smoothly reintegrate into the workplace.

A spokesperson at Reassured comments: “Our study highlights the need for continued efforts to improve parental leave policies. With life being filled with unforeseen twists and turns, ensuring your family is protected should the worst happen is crucial. To learn more about our family life insurance, please contact the Reassured team.”

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