Daddy Leave: why Britain needs a father-inclusive parenting leave system

8 August 2022

The UK’s parenting leave system is one of the most gender-unequal in the developed world. Its structure – followed by the vast majority of employers across the country – places responsibility for looking after babies, for the entire first year of their lives, firmly in the hands of mothers. New fathers, meanwhile, are expected to continue working as if nothing has happened.

It’s time to change the system.

At the Fatherhood Institute, we think the UK needs a parenting leave system that reflects the needs and aspirations of modern British parents – who want to be fully involved hands-on dads and mums, while also providing financially for their families and each other. 

In our Daddy Leave working paper (published August 2022) we set out one model for what a better system might look like – based on principles which are known from international research to enhance family well-being and promote gender equality.  These include:

  • All leaves are not the same: some leave exists to enable mothers to recover from the birth or support  their recovery and breastfeeding; some exists to support fathers and mothers to look after their new baby. These two types of leave should be clearly defined and distinguishable, not left opaque.
  • Leave for fathers should be an individual entitlement, ‘owned’ by them and not transferable from or to mothers
  • There should be an emphasis on closing the differential between fathers’ and mothers’ individual entitlements, while still supporting birthing parents’ recovery and infant health, to support progress towards gender equality.

Watch the Daddy Leave video explainer.

You can download the working paper below. Please share your thoughts and feedback with Dr Jeremy Davies via j.davies (at) fatherhoodinstitute.org.

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