A recent study by the CIPD showcases men’s attitudes about taking extended paternity leave and explores what this group would like to see implemented in the workplace. It further suggests what employers can do to support new fathers’ requests and cultivate an open culture at work.

A recent report by the CIPD explores men’s attitudes towards extended paternity leave and what more they would like to see introduced into the workplace, with the majority of fathers desiring to be treated the same as women when it comes to taking leave.

The report highlights that there are many barriers that men face when it comes to taking extended paternity leave (defined as paternity leave which spans three months or more). Almost three-quarters of men (73 per cent) surveyed believe there is a stigma attached to taking extended paternity leave, indicating that even if they wanted to take time off to be with their newborn child, many would be adverse to this.

As a result, over nine in 10 men (95 per cent) reported that workplace culture should be transformed to normalise men taking extended paternity leave.

However, there were additional factors that men stated dissuaded them from taking extended time off. Most notably, two-thirds of men (66 per cent) said that they did not take extended paternity leave as there had financial concerns regarding this, noting the statutory paternity pay. As it currently stands, the weekly rate for Statutory Paternity Pay is £151.20 or 90 per cent of their average weekly earnings (the lowest of the two).

There were also wellbeing concerns with over half of men (56 per cent) that did choose to take paternity leave feeling anxious on returning back to work. Only around a third of men (35 per cent) felt that they would receive the same support as a female employee who had returned from maternity leave, showing employers that support should be targeted at all employees returning after an extended period of leave.

When asked about what initiatives would be helpful, three-quarters of fathers (73 per cent) stated that information from employers on employment policies and rights would be appealing. This is particularly significant as the survey also revealed that there appears to be a general lack of knowledge about shared parental leave schemes, a perception that shared parental leave schemes are complicated to execute, and that employers are unable or unwilling to widely promote them.

Almost three-fifths of men (59 per cent) reported wanting further help from line managers – in particular, citing the desire to have scheduled conversations with line managers about the realities of parenting and the effect on work. A similar number of men asked for parental networks or forums.

In light of this research, the CIPD outlined various steps employers could take to support normalising extended paternity leave including:

  • Senior leaders being openly supportive of employees taking extended paternity leave (and taking it themselves where relevant)
  • Line managers receiving training on how to support working parents and encouraging them to take up the paternity options available to them
  • HR professionals committing to improving their understanding of all the options available to prospective parents to help them make informed choices.
  • Trying to offer enhanced paternity pay instead of the statutory amount which may help to ease the financial concerns that come along with taking extended paternity leave
  • Line managers discussing preferred levels of contact during their time away from work with dads ahead of them going on extended paternity leave to set out
    expectations and preferences from both sides
  • Employers offering as much flexibility as possible

*This research was taken from the CIPD’s ‘Managing Extended Paternity Leave’s Report’ which was published in December 2020. The results were obtained through an online survey which took place in January and February 2020 and completed by 631 working dads from across the UK, as well as two in-depth focus group interviews with 15 dad returners, which were conducted online in February 2020. However, it is important to note that this survey took place before the COVID-19 pandemic.