Paternity leave is good for families and good for business

Share

The business lobby risks crying wolf once too often over the Government's plans to give fathers a fortnight's paid paternity leave. The same doomsayers who warned that they would be ruined by maternity leave, the minimum wage and even, if you look back long enough, by paid holidays, are at it again. Once more, they say, Labour is leading the country down the road of our work-shy European neighbours.

The business lobby risks crying wolf once too often over the Government's plans to give fathers a fortnight's paid paternity leave. The same doomsayers who warned that they would be ruined by maternity leave, the minimum wage and even, if you look back long enough, by paid holidays, are at it again. Once more, they say, Labour is leading the country down the road of our work-shy European neighbours.

It is hard amid such rhetoric to recognise the reality of men's lives when they become fathers. They take their bread-winning role seriously - perhaps too seriously.

New dads in Britain actually increase their hours of work. They are hardly shirkers - they work the longest hours in Europe. Would it do so much harm to let them get to know their babies for a couple of weeks before returning to the treadmill?

If that sounds sentimental, then think practically. The NHS pushes mothers out of maternity wards as soon as possible. Who looks after them? Up to 20 per cent of these women have had Caesarean deliveries. Many lack extended families to back them up. Fathers are a key support. It is hardly surprising that post-natal depression is less prevalent when the father is actively involved.

Breast-feeding is apparently more successful when dads are supportive and well-informed. This is why the health service in Scotland targets dads in its public health education programme. It also points to a vital purpose for paternity leave. During the first fortnight, ham-fisted first-time parents gain both confidence and some knowledge. Health visitors are in and out of the home. But if dad is at work, he misses out, and so may his children.

Does it matter that so many fathers are ignorant of the basics in child care? It does, when you stop to realise that more and more children are in the sole care of their fathers more of the time. The latest research shows that where mothers are working, fathers now do more care-giving than any other third party. In short, ignorant fathers are a danger to their children.

If this is still too sentimental for the business lobby, then let's talk profit. AMP, Australia's largest insurer, give its new dads six weeks' paid parental leave, far more than the Government's parsimonious proposal. They reckon the scheme saves them money through reduced staff turnover. Looking after dads is not just good for families, it can be good for business.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Read Next
In 1215 the Magna Carta forced the English King (at the time King John) to respect the laws of the land and guaranteed rights and protections to his subjects  

Magna Carta will be 800 years old next year – the perfect reminder of the rights and freedoms we must hold dear

Nigel Farage
David Cameron and George Osborne tour building works at Manchester's Victoria Railway Station  

There’s more to the Tories caring about the North of England than meets the eye

Chris Blackhurst
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there