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Over half of parents say ‘inadequate’ paternity leave ‘negatively impacts mental health’

Study finds that almost three-quarters of mothers said they felt abandoned due to insufficient paternity leave

Joanna Whitehead
Tuesday 11 October 2022 10:23 BST
Boris Johnson says he will 'almost certainly' take paternity leave

Over half of parents (56 per cent) have said that inadequate paternity leave has negatively impacted their mental health, according to a new study.

Research commissioned by Koru Kids, in conjunction with The Fatherhood Institute has examined the current state of UK paternity leave, with three quarters of fathers and non-birthing partners (76 per cent) polled offered just two weeks leave by their employer.

This is the current minimum statutory requirement in the UK, compared with 52 weeks for maternity leave.

The study found that almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of mothers surveyed said they felt abandoned during such a vulnerable time, with more than two-thirds (67 per cent) taking on the majority of household chores and childcare duties alone.

Three in five (62 per cent) of mothers said they felt that their partner struggled to create a bond with their new baby due to a lack of time off, while over half of parents (52 per cent) said their child didn’t receive enough attention during those crucial first months.

And a third of fathers/non-birthing partners (34 per cent) said that their relationship suffered, whilst a further third (32 per cent) said they were left feeling financially unstable.

Overall, 80 per cent of parents said that the unequal maternity/paternity leave policies in the UK reinforced traditional gender stereotypes which see the father returning to work, while the mother adopts a homemaking role.

Now, the two organisations are campaigning for fathers and non-birthing partners to be given six weeks minimum paid leave in the first year after the birth of a child, and for greater transparency from employers about the packages they offer.

Gender inequality starts at day one, thanks to poor paternity leave packages, and our research confirms that paternity leave is severely underfunded and overlooked,” Rachel Carrell, founder and CEO of Koru Kids, said.

“With 60 per cent of dads saying good paternity leave would be a factor when finding a new role, every employer should check their paternity package and make sure it truly provides financial stability, flexibility and enough time for new parents to bond with their baby.

“It’s time we broke down the barriers to accessing parental leave, so that men, women and children can flourish.”

Koru Kids has created a tool that enables people to input their employers paternity policy and see how this compares with the Glassdoor “Top 50 Best Places to Work”.

The research follows a July study of nearly 8,000 fathers and non-birthing partners which found that the vast majority are not doing enough to support them in the workplace.

Data from pregnancy charity Pregnant Then Screwed showed that eight in 10 fathers believe this is the case, while one in seven (14 per cent) who used the shared parental leave scheme said they had faced workplace discrimination as a result.

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