FI straw poll reveals overwhelming support for flexible parental leave

4 August 2011

A straw poll commissioned by the Fatherhood Institute has revealed overwhelming support for a more flexible version of parental leave.

In the poll, conducted as a quick test of public opinion to feed into the Institute’s submission to the Government’s ‘Modern Workplaces’ consultation, more than nine out of ten respondents (94%) came out in favour of proposals to increase greater flexibility between parents for taking parental leave.

Four-fifths (79%) of the 155 respondents supported the idea of turning part of paid maternity leave into parental leave that can be shared by parents. Some wanted more than four weeks’ leave reserved for each individual parent: a quarter (27%) felt this didn’t give enough time for mum, and 17% not enough time for dad.

More than four-fifths of respondents (83%) agreed with the proposal that mums and dads should be able to take their parental leave part-time, rather than only in full-time blocks.

Almost three-quarters (71%) thought employers should top up parental leave pay to at least 50% of salary level, and almost a quarter – 24% – said it should be topped up to full salary level.

The majority of respondents (52%) said that the dad in their household would be likely or very likely to take his share of the leave entitlement. And three-fifths (59%) said that if this were to happen, it would free mum to go back to work.

Of those who said dad would not be likely to take it (46%), more than half (58%) said this was because he was the main breadwinner, so the family wouldn’t be able to afford it. A fifth (20%) said taking leave would slow down his career progression (more than his partner’s). A quarter (25%) said his employer wouldn’t like it, and 15% that his manager wouldn’t like it.

The survey was promoted to our database and on parenting websites including Netmums and the Working Dads Facebook group, between 9 June and 29 July.

In our submission to the ‘Modern Workplaces’ consultation – which expires on 8 August – we outline a set of principles for how the Government could create a culture of shared parenting in the UK, and make specific recommendations for how this could best be reflected in a new parental leave system. Read our submission to the parental leave consultation.

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