It was once seen as a woman’s role to sit at home with the newborn baby while the father went out and earned money. Thankfully, in more modern times, that perception has changed and stay-at-home fathers have now become commonplace, as have career-focused mothers. However, when new Dads are offered the opportunity to take paternity leave to spend time with their new son or daughter, are they grabbing that chance?
According to Zurich Insurance, it seems so – at least in the right circumstances. It offers a new, enhanced paternity package launched last year – and it shows that 70% are taking the full 16-week paid paternity leave entitlement, while 78% take three months or more.
Its study comes after external research revealed that two fifths of new fathers aren’t taking the amount of paternity leave they feel is needed to bond with their new children. Forty-five per cent (45%) of those said it was because they couldn’t afford to take a drop in salary while only receiving the statutory leave amount of £151.20. In addition, Zurich found that more than one in four fathers put their careers on the backburner to grow their family as juggling the two is simply too demanding.
Now, the insurer wants the Government to make the publishing of family related leave and pay mandatory – so new employees know what they have the right to, from the outset.
“It’s 2020, family life has moved on, and our approach as employers must too,” said Steve Collinson, head of HR at Zurich. “By enhancing statutory provision for all parents, we are supporting them in playing a more active role in family life. To allow more families to benefit, we would urge Government to enhance the statutory pay for fathers and second parents, which in turn will shift the dial and encourage more employers to follow suit.”
Zurich itself cited numerous case studies within its own organisation highlighting the interest in paternity leave. For example, it quoted project manager James Williams and his wife Hannah (both pictured), an executive assistant, both at the firm, who celebrated the birth of their first daughter, Elise on April 07. They planned to take the full 16 weeks paid leave, together as a family, although COVID-19 impacted some of their plans.
“The family friendly policy really helped us through lockdown, we weren’t able to have friends or family visit in those first few months, it was just the three of us together,” said James. “Being able to concentrate solely on the family without having to worry about work pressures made a huge difference to us. While lockdown has been pretty horrible for lots of people, due to the family friendly policy we have managed to bond as a family really well.
“Many of our friends are at the stage in their lives where they’re having babies now and most are lucky to get two weeks paid paternity leave.”