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Men ‘likely to forego paternity entitlement’

Men ‘likely to forego paternity entitlement’

A survey has shown that around 41% of men will turn their back on the opportunity to have extended paternity rights.

Price comparison website uSwitch.com quizzed 1,000 men to complete the poll, which revealed that some worried about the effect it would have on their career prospects.

More than 50% of those who would not take it said they would not be able to afford the time off, while others felt work pressures would make it impractical.

From April 3 new paternity rights will result in new fathers being able to take up to six months leave if their partner returns to work.

Fathers will be able to take leave between 20 weeks and one year after their child is born or placed for adoption, if the mother has returned to work.

Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, said: "The Government may have recognised that fathers today are a lot more hands-on than they may have been in the past, but putting legislation in to support this is only part of the battle. The biggest fight will be to change social opinion, fears and prejudices and this is not going to happen overnight."

Laurence O'Neill, Solicitor in IBB's Employment team, said: "The results of the survey are perhaps unsurprising given that most of the period of additional statutory paternity leave will be unpaid.

"Fathers will only benefit from statutory paternity pay (at £124.88 per week increasing to £128.73 from 11 April 2011) where the mother returns to work with some of her statutory maternity pay entitlement remaining.

"Thereafter paternity leave will be unpaid, at least by the Government. That fathers are concerned about the affect on their careers of taking leave is nothing new: it's something that mothers taking leave have had to consider for some time.

"But some comfort is given by the fact that similar protections are built into the paternity leave regulations as appear in the maternity leave regulations about making unlawful any detriments suffered by fathers as a result of taking leave and giving fathers on paternity leave the same preferential treatment as mothers in redundancy situations.

"What is surprising about the survey results is that almost 60% of fathers appear to be willing to take up the new rights to some extent, which will go some way to fulfilling the Government's ambition of improving family friendly rights.

"The coalition Government has indicated that such rights will be extended by 2015 with the right for fathers to take up to ten months' paid paternity leave, possibly from as early as 6 weeks after the child is born; parents being able to take the leave in a number of interchangeable blocks of time; parents able to take time off at the same time; and fathers receiving a minimum set period of paid leave to encourage more time with their children."

Our Employment team provides advice on the employment aspects of all major business decisions. For advice, contact a member of the team, call us on 08456 381 381 or email enquiries@ibblaw.co.uk.