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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 set out in more detail what a better parenting leave system might look like - providing a wider context to our '6 weeks for dads' campaign 

We are Co-investigators on the ESRC-funded Transition to Parenthood in UK SMEs study, and sit 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 

Our 'Six weeks for dads' parliamentary petition attracted more than 14,000 signatures, smashing the target of 10,000 required to trigger a Government response. Find out how to support the campaign here

We’re part of the Flex For All coalition, which is campaigning for a Day 1 right to flexible working. New flexible working rules from April 2024 introduced the 'right to request' as a Day 1 right, rather than the right to work flexibly - 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

In addition to our Cash or Carry and Lockdown Fathers evidence reviews, 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

Make a donation to support our ongoing policy work

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