11:16 21 October 2009
Almost half of all new fathers are failing to take the two weeks of paternity leave that they are rightfully entitled to, research has revealed.
Two in five fathers are too scared to request more flexible working hours in order to spend more time with their family in case it jeopardises their job prospects.
The reluctance of fathers to use these rights six years after they came into force has ironically been met with ministers' announcement of an extension of parental leave for men.
From 2012, fathers will be entitled to the second six months of their partners maternity leave as long as the childs mother goes back to work after the first six months.
Experts have criticised the extension of the rights if fathers are not using pre-existing ones.
The research, by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), stated that the majority of the 45% of men who failed to take two weeks' paternity leave said that they could not afford it.
The paternity leave pay is the statutory rate of £123.06 per week.
The EHRC said that most feared their commitment to the job would be questioned.
Andrea Murray, acting group director strategy at the EHRC, said that the research also found many fathers were unhappy that they did not spend more time with their children.
Murray has urged more companies to highlight these benefits and encourage fathers to make use of their rights to offset their professional worries.
She said: "It is clear that todays families require a modern approach to balancing work and childcare commitments. Two thirds of fathers see flexible working as an important benefit when looking for a new job.
"This highlights an opportunity for British businesses to use flexible working as an incentive for attracting and retaining the most talented of employees
"Some companies that have adopted forward thinking policies towards families are reporting increased productivity, reduction in staff turnover, reduced training costs and an ability to respond better to customer requirements."
The Government recently decided against extending paid maternity leave to from nine to 12 months.
However, it did fix plans to offer fathers the second half of the one year maternity leave. Note that only half would be paid at the statutory rate, with the remaining three months unpaid. The research has suggested that few fathers will adopt this offer.
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