IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Working dads failed by workplace policies, parliamentary report finds

20 March 2018

UCL Institute of Education academic Margaret O'Brien's research informs parliamentary report suggesting the Government must reform workplace policies to support working dads caring for their children

Father and son at beach

The new report finds that current policies supporting fathers in the workplace do not deliver what they promise and this is particularly the case for less well-off fathers.

The report concludes that the right to request flexible working has not created the necessary cultural change and the Government itself admitted to the inquiry that its flagship shared parental leave scheme will not meet its objective for most fathers.

This comes as the deadline approaches for gender pay gap reporting. The Government says that fathers taking a more active role in caring for their children is a key way of ending the gender pay gap.

The Committee recommends that:

  • Statutory paternity pay should be paid at 90% of the father's pay (capped for higher earners) to help ensure that all fathers, regardless of income, can be at home around the time of their child's birth;
  • The Government should consider the costs and benefits of introducing a new policy of 12 weeks' standalone fathers' leave in the child's first year as an alternative to shared parental leave when it reviews the policy this year;
  • The Government should legislate immediately to make a reality the Prime Minister's call for all jobs to be advertised as flexible from day one, unless there are solid business reasons not to;
  • The Government should harmonise workplace rights for fathers who are agency workers or self-employed with those for employed fathers where practical - for example by introducing paternity allowance similar to maternity allowance.

Professor Margaret O'Brien said: "I'm pleased that this cross-party report suggests the UK should now have its "Nordic turn" to support working fathers. It's been a long time coming - unpaid parental leave was introduced to fathers and mothers in 1999 and low paid paternity leave in 2003. I hope action will now follow words.

"I'm delighted too that our research on fathers and leave has helped inform the recommendations."

Media contact

Henry Killworth, UCL Media Relations
+44 (0) 20 7679 5296