UK dads welcome new shared parental leave laws

But fears of baby duties, a sense of responsibility and money worries mean nearly a quarter won’t take it.

The new shared parental leave laws have been largely welcomed by Dads with 61% saying they would take the full leave, according to new research from QualitySolicitors, the UK’s leading network of legal firms.

However, nearly a quarter (22%) say they wouldn’t take it due to a number of reasons, including financial pressures (44%), a sense of duty to be the main breadwinner (34%) and a fear of being stuck at home with a newborn (25%).

The Shared Parental Leave Regulations, which came into effect earlier this month, mean that fathers can share their partner’s maternity leave entitlement of 52 weeks, provided the mother takes two weeks off directly after the birth. The change in law applies for parents of children born or adopted after 5th April 2015.

DIY, holidays and the pub… anything but baby!

Whilst over a third (37%) of respondents said they’d use the time to bond with their child, the poll shows that many Dads see the extended paternity leave as an opportunity to do anything but look after the kids!

DIY Dads: 32% said they’d use the time to do chores around the house
Holiday hopefuls: 21% would use the time to take the family on holiday where a cheeky 13% said they’d go away with their mates
Enjoy some ‘me time’ – 16% of Dads would take the opportunity to spend more time on their favourite hobbies and pastimes
Off to the pub: Over one in 10 (12%) Dads take the tradition of ‘whetting the babies head’ to the extreme using the time off for extra pub visits

As policies from Labour and the Lib Dems suggest statutory paternity leave may extend to either four or six weeks, the research reveals many men are unsure whether to take time off with their newborn for the following reasons:.

Financial worries: Nearly half (44%) say they cannot afford to take the additional leave on just statutory pay
Sense of duty: Over a third (34%) say it is their duty as family breadwinner to be at work whilst their wife or partner looks after the baby
Rather be at work than at home with baby: The office is an escape route for a quarter (25%) of fathers who say they’d prefer work to providing daddy day care

Work pressures

Interestingly many men cite the pressure they’d be under from their employer as a reason not to take the leave they are entitled to. A quarter (24%) said it’d create ‘too much hassle’ at work if they were to take extended leave. Nearly a fifth (17%) said it’d damage their career whilst a sixth (16%) said they thought their colleagues would resent them.

Worryingly, 8% say their company makes them feel ‘very uncomfortable’ about taking time off and nearly a sixth (14%) say that their employer would really struggle without them there. Younger employees (30%) are more likely to worry about the pressure placed on their colleagues, compared with just 14% of dads aged 40 - 45 years.

Age differences

Interestingly,  the younger the Dad is, the more likely they are to prefer work over baby duties: 40% of 18 – 29 year olds would rather be at work than at home, compared with 20% of 30 – 39 year olds. Fatherly duties appear higher on the priority list for older dads with 51% of dads aged 40 – 45 years saying they would use their extended leave to simply look after their baby, compared with just 28% of those aged 18 – 29 years. Younger dads would be more likely to be using their extended leave to do DIY (37%)!

Dads in the regions

Dads in Yorkshire and Humberside would be most likely to whet the baby’s head, with 18% saying they would use the additional parental leave to spend more time in the pub. Dads in Yorkshire and Humber are also the most likely to go on holiday with friends (24%) whereas fathers in Northern Ireland are most likely to use the time to plan their next career move and look for a new job (16%).

Kate Knapton, SME legal expert at QualitySolicitors comments, “ It is clear that Dads up and down the country welcome the recent changes to parental leave legislation. As the biggest change in parental leave law for generations, this clearly brings a unique set of challenges for SMEs who should make sure they have the right parental leave policies in place. It is crucial that employers and fathers-to-be have frank conversations as to how businesses can absorb the additional workload, so that fathers taking extended leave can take advantage of what is crucial bonding time with their newborn child”.

Notes to Editors:

The research was conducted in March 2015 by One Poll and asked 500 fathers for their views.

About QualitySolicitors:

  • Launched in 2010, QualitySolicitors is a group of law firms across the country working as part of the QualitySolicitors brand. Only one firm per local area is selected to become a QualitySolicitors partner. Customer feedback forms an integral part of the selection process.
  • QualitySolicitors’ national network of lawyers consists of over 100 branches across England and Wales.
  • QualitySolicitors lawyers are experts in their fields dealing with both consumer and SME legal matters. QualitySolicitors offers a personal, local service but with the assurance of a recognised national brand.
  • QualitySolicitors’ website address is
  • In 2011 QualitySolicitors secured equity investment from Palamon Capital Partners, a private equity house with a £700m fund.

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