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Fathers at work

Lobbying for gender-equitable employment policy and workplaces

Why change is needed

Fathers in the UK are more likely than mothers to be in full time paid work, especially when they have young children. They are also more likely to work long hours and have long commutes.


Despite evidence showing that well-paid leave for fathers in the baby’s first year can reduce gender pay and workforce participation gaps, the UK’s statutory paternity leave and pay offer remains the least generous in Europe. A third of low-income fathers eligible to leave don’t take it; half of families struggle financially when fathers do take leave; and more than two-thirds of self-employed fathers – who are not eligible to any statutory support – take no time off when their baby arrives. Fathers also have no individual entitlement to paid parental leave, and are less likely to ask for, and be granted, flexible working arrangements.

What needs to happen

We want the Government and employers to recognise and support men’s fatherhood from the earliest possible stage – through well-paid and substantial leave in their baby’s first year, and access to flexible working options wherever possible. We estimate that three-quarters of UK employers offer only statutory paternity leave and pay, and whilst some enlightened employers offer enhanced paternity packages, we see it as the Government’s responsibility to improve the offer for fathers.


Crucially, fathers should have an individual right to a substantial period of well-paid, non-transferable parental leave. We also want all employed parents to have a Day 1 right to work flexibly, with the onus on employers to justify where this is not possible.

Key actions

In July 2023 we wrote an open letter, signed by more than 30 partner organisations and gender equality advocates, to Kemi Badenoch MP, Business and Trade Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities – calling for a rethink on the Government’s decision, five years after launching a consultation on parenting leave reform, not to improve the amount of leave and pay available to fathers. We have since received a response from Kevin Hollinrake MP, Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business, reiterating the Government’s position

Our Daddy Leave working paper sets out in more detail what we think a better parenting leave system might look like

For the last two years we have been on the judging panel for the Working Dads Employer Awards

Our Head of Research, Adrienne Burgess, was special advisor to the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee's inquiry on fathers and the workplace, whose report was published in 2018

We’re campaigning for six weeks’ well-paid leave for fathers/partners in their baby’s first year – working alongside partner organisations including Pregnant Then Screwed and Future Men to push for this to be included in party manifestos for the next general election, expected in 2024 

We also launched a parliamentary petition spelling out our call for six weeks’ leave, with the aim of reaching 10,000 signatures, which would trigger a Government response to this specific proposal

We’re part of the Flex For All coalition, which is campaigning for a Day 1 right to flexible working. We welcome the Government’s decision to remove the length of service restriction on who has a ‘right to request’ flexible working, but this still leaves employees in a risky position if they ask. We want the onus to shift, making flexible working the default unless employers can justify why flexibility is not possible

We monitor, analyse and report on official data about fathers’ and mothers’ work and caregiving patterns, for example via our Closing the Gap report

How you can help

Commission us to deliver a webinar or training at your workplace

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