Men shunning chance of more time with newborns


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The Independent Online

More than 75 per cent of UK men fail to take up paternity leave after the birth of a child, according to new statistics. Despite legislation aimed at encouraging men to share childcare responsibilities, women are more likely to take time off after a child is born or adopted.

While the number of UK men who took paternity leave rose to 194,000 in 2010 – up 14 per cent – this compared to 602,000 women. The overall amount of paternity pay rose by 23 per cent to £43m in the year to March 2010, up £8m from the year before.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, says fathers must be "actively encouraged" to take time off. But Katie Douglas, legal director at law firm Pincent Masons, said: "Despite the Government's determination to encourage fathers to take paternity leave, many men still do not exercise their right. They fear... doing so is still frowned upon by employers."

The Government aims to extend legislation for a fully flexible system of shared leave by 2015, with up to 10 months' extra time available to fathers. Currently, additional leave can only be taken 20 or more weeks after a child is born and once the mother has returned to work. The father must also have been on a continuous contract with his employer for at least 26 weeks.