Working dads missing out on time with newborns

The majority of new dads would like to take up to 20 weeks of paternity leave, survey finds. Photo: The Honest Company/Unsplash

Just half of new dads in the UK take full paid paternity leave, but most would jump at the chance to take more, research shows.

A survey of 1,000 working dads by insurer Zurich found the majority of new dads do not take the amount of paternity leave that they feel they need to bond with their new children.

Just under half (49%) of new dads take the full two weeks paid paternity leave they are entitled to, while 30% take between four and 10 days, and 15% take no time off at all, the results found.

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Of those who don’t take statutory paternity leave, almost half (45%) can’t afford to take the drop in their pay for two weeks, while a quarter (23%) have too heavy a workload.

This comes in stark contrast with the amount of time dads would like to take in an ideal world, where the majority – 67% – would choose up to 20 weeks, and a quarter would take even more.

It seems that this gap is taking its toll with seven in 10 dads (72%) agreeing either somewhat or strongly that new fathers tend to suffer emotionally and mentally after the birth of a child and juggling the demands of returning to work.

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Two in five dads said that on returning to work, they didn’t feel they’d spent enough time with their new family, while a quarter (26%) said they felt too tired and that performing their jobs was difficult.

When asked if they’d take 16 weeks paid paternity leave if it was offered by their employer, the overwhelming majority – 77% – said yes and that they’d love to spend it with their new family.

The findings coincide with government proposals to improve parental leave entitlements for fathers and partners, and for employers to be more transparent about their family-related leave and pay policies.

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The number of new dads taking paternity leave has dropped 3% since 2015 because many are not eligible or can not afford it.