A staggering 76 percent of employers believe that more workplace support is needed for new fathers, according to new research from digital health platform Peppy.
The research comes twenty years after The Paternity and Adoption Leave Regulations 2002 which first enshrined in law a father’s right to take either one week or two consecutive weeks parental leave, and the subsequent amendment in 2014 that introduced shared paternity leave.
Although mothers and fathers now have more equality in terms of leave, the emphasis for support can still be on the birth mother – but new fathers deserve parity.
What sort of challenges do new fathers face?
It is important for employers to remember that new fathers can face their own challenges:
• Fathers can suffer depression and isolation as the new mother’s priorities shift.
• Fathers can feel depressed if they struggle to bond with the new child.
• Men are generally less likely to open up about their emotions, and emotions can be heightened due to lack of sleep.
• Added to that, the breadwinner mentality still lingers, and some men will feel additional pressure to earn enough to support a growing family – especially as maternity pay comes to an end.
What type of support is needed?
It is important to ensure that all support – and communications about support – are fully inclusive for all types of family, including same-sex parents and single-parents.
Over and above the emotional aspects of becoming a new parent, there are also other more practical areas in which fathers may benefit from support. They may want to understand how to best help their partner during the postnatal phase and to know more about all areas from new-born feeding and sleeping habits to developmental issues.
Dr Mridula Pore, CEO of Peppy said: “As a society, the focus for new parents is often still on the mother, and that attitude filters down to the workplace, but we need to redress this balance for the benefit of new fathers everywhere.
“Being a new parent can be one of the best feelings in the world but it’s not without its challenges. Employers who support their staff, including new fathers, at this time and demonstrate their family-centric approach will be rewarded with loyal employees who value the fact that their employer understands they now have an added layer of responsibility.”
Complications pre or post birth
Complications before, during or after the birth can be traumatic for fathers who often feel ‘surplus to requirements’, and any serious problems or medical conditions in either the mother or child can be a difficult start to what should be a joyous time in the new family’s lives. This can bring its own challenges to fathers, who can benefit from their own support.
Dr Mridula Pore said: “Being a new father is daunting without any additional complications. Where possible, support for new fathers should start early and ahead of the birth to empower them to be confident and knowledgeable – especially if they feel the road ahead may not be a straightforward one.
“Becoming a new parent is a really defined key life-stage moment and one in which employers can make a significant impact by offering fathers the support they both need and deserve.”
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview. With a master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.