Fathers grateful for paid holiday on child's birth: Martin Whitfield reports on the decision to block European legislation on paternity leave

VIRTUALLY all new fathers take time off from work when a baby is born. Most juggle one or two days from their annual holiday entitlement. Others have up to two weeks' paternity leave paid for by their employers.

'It was a great opportunity to be there at the beginning of the family unit,' said Greg Ball, marketing manager of the Littlewoods group, who had 10 days paid leave on the birth of his daughter Eleanor in June. 'I am very greatful to the company that I was able to do that.'

Littlewoods sees the introduction of paternity leave as part of its commitment to equal opportunities. Its maternity provisions are also in advance of British legislation and an unpaid parental leave period of up to 40 weeks can be used by either parent where both are employed by the company.

Paternity leave has been relatively slow to spread across the economy with the CBI saying that fewer than one-third of all companies grant extra time off. It is more common in the public sector, where the average time off is five days, while in manufacturing only a quarter of employees have the right to between one and three days. 'We believe it is an item that is best achieved through voluntary means,' the CBI said.

Most employers cite cost as the main reason for refusing to grant paternity leave, but a survey this year in Equal Opportunity Review of more than 350 organisations found the impact on the wage bill was negligible. 'During the last 12 months, 5,899 employees took paternity leave from 125 organisations employing 543,576 workers. Assuming that the employees took their full entitlement, this is equivalent to 0.054 days holiday per employee per annum. Or to put it another way, on the basis of a 35-hour week, the equivalent of 23 minutes per person per annum,' it said.

A number of small companies have been willing to have agreements with their staff. Piers Burgin, an accountant with Independent Phone Rentals, which has 12 staff in Richmond, south-west London, had 10 days extra holiday when Casey, his daughter was born three years ago. Two other male employees, including the managing director, have also had time off at the time of their children's birth. 'It was very important that I was there,' he said. 'I seemed to spend a lot of my time waiting for midwives. More and more people are taking paternity leave or they are using up their holidays. It is an experience fathers don't want to miss.'

Christine Gowridge, director of Maternity Alliance, said paternity leave was not a revolutionary concept and had been recommended by a House of Lords select committee more than 10 years ago.

'Somehow the attitude that you are not committed if you are not working all hours has got to be changed and some men are beginning to recognise that,' she said.

Even before yesterday's ruling in Brussels, British men, with no statutory rights, were worse off than many in Europe. In Denmark, men are entitled to 10 days leave to be taken in the first 14 weeks after birth. In France and Belgium three days leave is guaranteed and in Spain two days.

But Ian Handford, policy group chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: 'There are 1.4 million employers in the UK and 90 per cent of these employ fewer than 10 people. If just one person claimed paternity leave, the result would be a 10 per cent reduction in the workforce for up to three months in any given year.'

(Photograph omitted)

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
newsJohn Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
News
i100
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes