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Young generation of working parents more likely than older generation to take up paternity leave entitlement

Almost half of under 35-year-olds who are married or living as married would be likely to take advantage of new paternity entitlements, taking effect from 3 April 2011.

This suggests younger generations are more interested in sharing childcare responsibilities, according to research conducted by YouGov for Croner.

The research unveils a clear difference in attitudes between age groups. The survey's respondents were asked how likely they would be to take advantage of the leave if or when they have children. Well over half (63%) of 18-24 year-olds and 40% of 25-34 year-olds say they would be likely to take the leave. On the other hand the figures are just 19% of 45-54 year-olds and 13% of over-55s.
A quarter of men who are married or living as married would be likely to take advantage of new paternity leave arrangements. Almost three-quarters (73%) of those likely to take up leave say that spending time with the baby is a reason for doing so, with a fifth just wanting a break from their career.

A Government source recently stated that only around 6% of new fathers are initially expected to take up the new right to flexible parental leave, arguing only a small proportion of businesses will be affected by this legislation. But the research from Croner has questioned this figure, suggesting businesses need to be prepared for increased demand from their male employees to take up this extra leave.
Joanne Waller, employment consultant at Croner, said: "Following the Government's proposals to offer fathers extra paternity leave, employers weren't initially expecting a high take up from employees. But it appears that for many men the family comes first. 
"While older generations seem less interested in ‘flexible working' or shared childcare responsibilities, there is definitely interest from younger men to take up this new paternity leave as attitudes to work-life balance change. This attitude is likely to become more widespread in future generations so employers really need to be prepared to accommodate it. Operating family-friendly policies is fast becoming an important aspect of working life and neglecting this could put employers at risk of losing talented employees to other organisations."
Although 37% of men who are married or living as married who were unlikely to take advantage of the new legislation cite financial reasons as a concern for not doing so, just 4% would be unlikely to take the leave because of the potential negative views of colleagues. Other predicted barriers are also disputed with only 4% of men revealing ‘status' as the concern for not taking the time-off and 6% stating their career is too important.

Recent research drawn from a Government-commissioned report has announced that almost half (44%) of women in Britain now earn the same amount as their partners, with almost a fifth (19%) taking home more than their partners. This suggests that financial concerns may be less of an issue for people wishing to take up this leave forwarding the future.
Current legislation enables men to take two weeks' paternity leave at the time of the child's birth or shortly after. The new proposals from the Government will offer fathers a second period of leave from 20 weeks after the baby is born, if the mother chooses to go back to work - taking anything from two weeks up to 26 weeks off at statutory pay (90% of the man's average weekly earnings or £123.06, depending on which is lower).