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Thursday, 6 June, 2002, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Fathers make time for babies
Father and baby
From April 2003, firms must offer paid paternity leave
The UK government's campaign to encourage paternity leave is beginning to take off, according to a new survey.


It is all very well having the legislation, but some companies are still very macho

Judith Cowan of CIPD

The portion of fathers taking time off to spend with their children has increased dramatically over the last few years, according to a report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD).

The trend amounts to the biggest increase in take-up of flexible benefits in the last three years, with the number of fathers taking time off after a child's birth rising from 9% to 44% between 1999 and 2002.

Companies are not legally required to offer paid paternity leave until 2003, but 81% of companies surveyed by CIPD said they now offer the option to their staff.

Paternity rights

From April 2003, all fathers will be entitled to two weeks' paid leave after the birth of a child.

% of Organisations offering benefits today and in 1999*:
Paternity leave 81%, 66% (1999)
Parental/domestic leave 78%, 57% (1999)
Leave for other domestic duties 43%, N/A (1999)
Workplace nursery 8%, 10% (1999)
Childcare subsidies 7%, 9% (1999)
Help with nanny/au pair/childminder selection 2%, 4% (1999)
After school care 2%, 2% (1999)
*1000 CIPD members

In preparation for the legal change, an increasing number of employers have been offering the facility for their staff whether paid or unpaid.

But, while CIPD said it was encouraged by the development, take-up was still confined to a "minority".

Judith Cowan, CIPD spokesman told BBC News Online that this was indicative of the "macho" culture which permeated many workplaces.

She said: "It is all very well having the legislation but if people at the top are not encouraging it, it won't happen. Some companies are still very macho.

"It is only the brave who are taking it up."

Granny assistance

According to the survey, employers are increasingly sympathetic to the needs of workers who are caring for elderly parents.

Between 1999 and 2002, the number of CIPD members offering this sort of leave rose from 15% to 27% of organisations.

However, few organisations offer workplace nurseries and childcare subsidies.

In fact, the number of employers offering these kinds of facilities has actually declined over the last three years.

For example, the percentage of employers offering nurseries at work has decreased from 10% to 8%.

CIPD said that the scaling back of these facilities was more likely to due to an uncertain economic environment.

"It is more of a cost cutting exercise, and less of an attempt to undermine women," said Ms Cowan.

"It is not brilliant but I can just about kind of understand that the economic climate is leading firms to cut back."

See also:

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