A recent study spearheaded by life insurance broker, Reassured, has drawn attention to the inadequacy of paternity leave packages offered to UK fathers. The research comes as family pressures mount, prompting a closer look at paternity leave experiences across countries and industries.

The study reveals alarming disparities in the paternity leave experiences of UK fathers. A significant 17.1% of fathers reported receiving only five to six weeks of paid paternity leave. Meanwhile, a concerning 20% indicated they were allocated just one to two weeks. Moreover, a majority of fathers, 52%, felt the pressure to return to their jobs prematurely, with 41% stating their requests for extended leave were declined. It was further noted that 60% of these fathers hoped their leave duration would match that of their partners.

Regional Differences in Paternity Leave

Manchester emerges as a city that supports fathers, with 41% of its paternal population enjoying nine to ten weeks of paid leave. In contrast, cities such as Norwich and Liverpool only provide one to two weeks for 33.3% and 30% of their paternal residents respectively.

However, Leeds presents a unique scenario. It’s not the duration of the leave that’s the concern, but the potential career repercussions of taking longer paternity leaves. A staggering 70% of Leeds fathers believe that extended paternity leave could negatively impact their professional trajectories. This sentiment is echoed in other cities but to a lesser degree, with 45% in London and 43% in Birmingham expressing similar concerns.

Industries and their Approach to Paternity Leave

The research identified sectors where fathers felt their careers might be at risk if they opted for extended leaves. In the charity and law sectors, every father surveyed (100%) felt longer leaves could hinder their career progression. High career impact sentiments were also observed in sectors like law enforcement and security (75%), and in recruitment, HR, transport, and accountancy (67%).

On the brighter side, industries like creative arts and design, and teaching and education, appear to be more supportive. Only 20% of professionals in these sectors believed their careers could be adversely affected by longer paternity leaves.

When it comes to the top industries offering paternity leave, the study ranked them as follows:

  1. Healthcare with an average of 12.0 weeks
  2. Finance offering an average of 11.5 weeks
  3. Industrial sector at 9.6 weeks
  4. Technology with an average of 7.3 weeks
  5. Consumer Cyclical at 7.0 weeks

The Global Perspective on Paternity Leave

In a comparison of 43 countries, the UK ranks 24th in terms of paternity leave provisions, with an average leave duration of 2 weeks. UK companies, on average, offer an 18.5% overall payment rate during this period. This pales in comparison to Spain, which stands out with an offering of 16 weeks of paid paternity leave at a full salary. The Netherlands, ranking second, provides fathers with an average of 6 weeks of paid leave at 79.9% of their average salary.

Making Paternity Leave More Accessible

Reassured also engaged with Danielle Baron, seeking her insights on enhancing paternity leave accessibility. She recommends:

  • Flexible Policies: Embrace policies that cater to diverse family structures, encompassing same-sex couples and adoptive parents.
  • Inclusive Communication: Keep communication related to parental leave gender-neutral and use “parental leave” instead of “maternity leave”.
  • Equal Opportunities: Encourage all employees to take leave, promoting shared parental leave.
  • Return-to-Work Support: Offer comprehensive support, including phased returns, flexible work options, and access to counselling if required.
  • Mentorship and Training: Implement programmes that assist parents in seamlessly reintegrating into their professional roles.

Concluding the findings, a spokesperson from Reassured emphasised the importance of refining parental leave policies. They highlighted the unpredictability of life and the importance of ensuring family protection. They invited individuals to connect with the Reassured team for more details on their family life insurance offerings.