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Working Families launches campaign to raise fathers' awareness of their paternity leave rights

Working Families has launched a campaign to encourage more working fathers to take paternity leave, following a report finding 40% of dads can't afford to take up the benefit.

Working Families' campaign has been designed to raise fathers' awareness of their rights to paternity leave and to encourage employers to ‘top up' statutory pay to full pay for the two weeks of leave.

But research quoted by Working Families found four out of 10 fathers don't take paternity leave, 72% of those who did not said that they could not afford to take it, 14% that they didn't have enough length of service with their employer and 13% could not take paternity leave because they were self-employed and not entitled to paid leave.

John Wrighthouse, HR director at Nationwide, said: "Our paternity policy is enhanced above statute.  For example, we don't expect our employees to have served 26 weeks at Nationwide before being entitled to paternity pay and we provide full pay during the two weeks of leave, as well as paid leave to support partners at antenatal appointments.  Our policy also applies to the adoption and, over and above the statutory requirement, the long-term fostering of a child.
"At Nationwide we believe it is important for our employees to have job satisfaction and the motivation to do their job well.  By promoting working arrangements that fit in with family commitments we can maintain staff and retain the skills and knowledge they possess.  Furthermore, we have found that promoting Nationwide as a family-friendly employer is an advantageous recruitment and retention tool."
Working Families chief executive Sarah Jackson added: "Fathers want to play a greater role in their children's lives but our survey suggests that many can't afford the time off when their new baby is born.  Fathers who are self-employed, or who haven't worked for an employer for long enough, are not entitled to any leave or pay. 

"Our survey also shows that some employers don't appear to know the rules, and deny those who are eligible their rights. This has to change.

"We're launching the campaign to raise awareness about fathers' rights. We are glad to see a promise to consult on the eligibility for paternity leave in today's Green Paper. But we also need adequate levels of pay if fathers are to be encouraged to take leave.  That's where employers can come in.
"Many good employers offer contractual pay on top of statutory maternity pay. We want many more employers to top up statutory paternity pay to full pay for the two weeks.  Time with a new baby is a great gift to a new family and employers will reap the benefit of motivated employees."