Working Families, a leading UK work-life balance organisation, identified fathers as one of five problem areas for policy in a report published this month. It identifies the long notice period and service requirements as excluding a number of potential fathers from receiving paternity leave entitlements. The report is based on data from the Working Families helpline calls received during 2009.
These findings are consistent with findings from my research in which a number of fathers expressed confusion over when they were expected to notify their human resources department about their intention to take paternity leave. Babies do not tend to clock-watch their arrival and many fathers were adamant that they did not know when the baby would be born. One father went on paternity leave before his overdue-baby was born.
Another father was horrified when he was told that he did not qualify for paternity leave because he had only been with the company for two months. The way he saw it was that paternity leave was "for the birth and to help out with the family. It’s not that you’re trying to skive or bunk off work.”
I join with Working Families, and argue that all fathers should be entitled to levels of statutory paternity support regardless of their employment status.
Click here for the Working Families report.
Details of workplace rights for fathers can be found here.