SOCIETY Majority not offered Parental leave schemes

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The Independent Online
Employees in 97 per cent of workplaces are missing out on the benefits of parental leave schemes, according to a new survey. Launched on the first "Parenting Day" the report from the Demos think-tank found that only 3 per cent of British organisations offered leave which allowed both men and women to spend time with their families at the birth of a child.

Asked why this was the case, 37 per cent of firms said there was little demand from staff and one in six said that it was either too expensive or that the benefits would not justify the cost. Factors that would make firms consider changing their policies would be parliamentary or EU legislation. Only 28 per cent cited pressure from their employees.

Yet the move would be popular - an early survey showed that 64 per cent of people believe men should be entitled to full parental leave and 80 per cent believe firmly that life is suffering because of long hours at work.

"Demos has registered National Parenting Day on the May Bank Holiday (traditionally workers day) in order to focus government and businesses alike on the issues around enabling employees to balance work and family", said Helen Wilkinson, Demos' project director.

Parental Leave: The Price of Family Values?, pounds 4.95, from Demos. Tel: 0171 353 4479.