Protecting paternal rights

Protecting paternal rights

From the 1st October 2014 expectant fathers, or the partner of a pregnant woman, will be entitled to take unpaid time off work to attend antenatal appointments with their partner in a move to strengthen paternal rights.

The entitlement allows the father figure to accompany the expectant mother to up to 2 ante-natal appointments, with a maximum time period capped at six hours thirty minutes for each appointment. It is not necessary for employees to accrue time in employment before triggering this new entitlement, which starts from day one of employment. Should employers refuse a request, the employee is within their rights to complain to an Employment Tribunal within a three month period. The new initiative is part of the government’s aim to achieve greater involvement of both of the child’s parents from the earliest stages in pregnancy.

As a proud father I personally think this is a great move by the government that can only be of benefit for improving employee’s work/life balance and self-esteem as a parent. The announcement comes a few days after an article published in the weekend paper detailing a new campaign headed by Olympic rower and all-round action guy, James Cracknell, aiming to improve what it sees as ‘a crisis with fatherhood in Britain and a lack of role models to teach boys how to become men’. As the data shows, the truth behind this ‘crisis with fatherhood’ is certainly alarming. Research undertaken by revealed:

  • 53% of British fathers had missed out on milestones such as their children’s first steps, award ceremonies and first words
  • 65% of fathers had missed at least one parent’s eventing20% of fathers had not attended their child’s most recent school sports day
  • 35% of fathers had missed most or all of their children’s Christmas plays
  • 60% of fathers admitted that long working hours meant they only spend quality time with their children at weekends
  • 30% of fathers do not take any time off before the birth of their child

These are a disturbing set of statistics. In the majority of cases I would expect that the absence isn’t the father’s choice but a result of increased pressure in the workplace to hit results and compete with others – particularly those without children – to stay longer in the office as a way of demonstrating their commitment to their employer. The consequences of which are long-lasting: children with involved fathers are saner, cleverer, less likely to be delinquents or depressed and more likely to get an ‘A# grade in their studies.

For an employer it is important to understand the regulations and allowances surrounding parental leave, particularly in recent times as the legislative goalposts keep shifting to allow parents increased opportunity to manage parental leave and childcare responsibilities. A big contributor to stress these days can come from the failure to manage the work/life balance and the responsibilities that come with both. It’s always beneficial for the employer to be aware of their employees circumstances to stop problems spiralling out of control.

If any of the issues raised in this article affect your business, please give us a call to discuss your options. We are happy to advise and find a solution that works for you and your business: 0800 912 7152