“We need a more family friendly Britain,” says Nick Clegg

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Two thirds of fathers regret missing key moments of their child’s early years due to work, according to new research from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The poll showed that 69 percent of dads have missed an important milestone in their child’s life, including their first steps (24%) and first words (21%). In contrast, only 11 percent of mothers reported missing either of these moments.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“Modern British families come in all shapes and sizes but we need a more family friendly Britain which works for them, not against them.

“Put simply, we’re relegating these outdated assumptions that women will always be the parents at home while fathers go out to work. We know more men want to be more involved with their children at home and, crucially, we know the difference it makes to a child’s development when they do.

“With the introduction of Shared Parental Leave, mothers and fathers will for the first time ever be able to decide for themselves how to divide the leave available after their child is born. This isn’t just fairer for families but it’s better for the economy too, boosting business productivity and helping companies recruit and keep the best talent.”

This research comes just weeks before shared parental leave comes into force on 5th April. When surveyed, nearly a third (29%) of current fathers said they would have taken up the right to shared parental leave had it been available at the time while a further two thirds (66%) of men who are considering starting a family at some point said they are likely to speak to their employer about taking the time off to spend with their children.

When asked whether taking more time off after the birth of their child would have helped, 94 percent of dads agreed, and only four percent felt it wouldn’t have been beneficial. Almost two thirds of fathers (59%) said it would have given them more of an opportunity to bond with their baby, and half felt it would have enabled them to help out their partner more (52%).

Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson said:

“A new baby turns your life upside down – albeit in a wonderful way. Letting couples choose how to share parental leave and pay in whatever way works best for them will mean mums and dads get to spend time developing that vital bond with their baby in the early stages. Dads care just as much about first steps and first words as mums – so it’s crucial that the system gives fathers the chance to be there.”

The research was carried out ahead of the introduction of shared parental leave, which applies to parents of babies due to be born or adopted from 5th April 2015. The new rules mean that parents can split up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay between them in the child’s first year of life or the first year an adopted child is with its new family. Shared parental leave also lets parents suggest a flexible pattern of leave to their employer and allows for up to three separate blocks of leave of a week or more.

For more information please visit https://www.gov.uk/sharedparentalleave

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