Leading article: Paternity pleading

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The Independent Online

"So," women might well retort at the latest report on paternity leave, "men are at last having to learn what we have experienced for years." And it's true. The finding by the Equality and Human Rights Commission study, that men fear to take their full two-week's paternity entitlement or to ask for flexible working for fear of harming their career prospects, is only what women have had to suffer ever since they entered the workforce.

Which doesn't make it right for fathers any more than the mothers, of course. Only, as women might also say, the least valuable time for paternity leave may be the first weeks. Men can't help with breast feeding and they're hopeless with nappy changing. It's when the kids are toddlers, ever ready to drink the bleach and throw themselves from the top of the stairs, that parenting partnership is really needed. Which is precisely when, of course, employers see least reason to make it possible.