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Few working men feel they would be able to take six months' paternity leave

Less than one in five working men would take all of the proposed six months' paternity leave, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by Orange.

The research found money concerns was the main factor for the 47% who said they would not take all of the proposed leave, with a quarter (27%) claiming they wouldn't take any time off when it comes into effect from April 2011.

The Orange survey also found that 15% of working men attributed their decision not to take the leave to believing they are too vital to the business to be absent for six months, while 3% believe the senior management in their company is actively against it.

An alternative to paternity leave, which means that men don't have to be out of the office for up to six months, is flexible working. Managed properly, flexible working can offer the ideal solution to both businesses and fathers of children under 17, who can benefit from working outside the traditional office location and hours. The survey showed that demand for this approach is high, with over three quarters (79%) of working men saying they would use a flexible working arrangement if their employer encouraged it.

But an absence of proper flexible working support was revealed by Orange's survey. It found that nearly a third of working men (30%) lacked the necessary support from their senior managers and colleagues, with only 10% of working men currently practising flexible working.

Martin Lyne, director for small and medium business at Orange UK, said: "Businesses need to address this demand or they risk losing valuable members of staff and future revenues. It is surprising how few employers encourage flexible working schemes, especially when there is so much technology to enable it. Our survey showed that broadband (57%), laptops (54%) and a mobile/smartphone (32%) were the top three tools working men thought they needed to work flexibly.

"In today's modern working environment, it is right that businesses [enable] male employees to take their full paternity leave. And it does not have to mean huge sacrifices by either party. The mobile technology which currently exists can empower staff to redress their work-life balance for their staff and enable new fathers to spend time with their families."