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.
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
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