Nurturing a Healthier Approach to Paternity Leave

Author: Eugenia Steponkute
Published: 23/08/2018
paternity leave

In this article, we are addressing issues surrounding paternity leave. We hope to share our concerns with company founders and managing directors. We believe they can be the progressive change in solving the problem of new fathers not receiving time off.

When two parents welcome a child into the world, it’s only right that both enjoy time off work to bond with the new baby. Though it’s now possible for parents to split parental leave, it’s still more common for mothers to take the lion’s share of it. The fathers then have around two weeks off work. However, according to data from HM Revenue and Customs obtained by law firm EMW, the number of fathers utilising their time off as a new parent has fallen for the first time in five years.

As Personnel Today reports, there was a 3.3% decline in fathers taking paternity leave in the year leading to 31 March, dropping from 221,000 to 213,500. To compare, the number of mothers taking leave increased slightly by 0.3%. Given we live in the era of gender quality movements, the numbers are unsettling. So let’s explore the cause of them. 

Why is Paternity Leave Important in the Workplace?

Granting equal gender rights is a sign of a healthy and modern workplace. Such qualities make it attractive for potential hires and work wonder for talent retention. Another benefit is that by raising morale, the performance grows too. 

Diversity, equality and inclusion are some of the hottest topics in the world that are swiftly translating into the corporate environment. Lack of either can gain bad business publicity and therefore result in loss of revenue. When speaking of the creation of equal rights, we, based on history, associate it with giving more power to women. This is what makes the concept of paternity leave difficult for some companies to grasp.

Controversy Surrounding Paternity Leave 

Although in past years paternity leave became a more welcomed practice among employers, it still causes a fair share of controversies. Even for the staff themselves. Very often, despite companies celebrating the idea of paternal leave, the employees fear judgement and ‘looks’ from their colleagues. They, therefore, choose to miss out on taking time off. 

Internalised Stereotypes

A big reason behind this is gender stereotypes. While they have changed substantially in the last decades, most still persist. For example, while there are more women entering the workforce and being acknowledged to be as competent as men, they’re still seen as warm, nurturing and caring - overall better suited for childcare.

These are very often internalised stereotypes. Men themselves grow to believe they’re not as well suited to take care of the newborn as good as their female partner is. This then discourages them from taking parental leave as they doubt their capability. Such leads to them choosing to be a breadwinner instead while their partner resumes the care of the baby. 

Workplace Backlash

Gender stereotypes breed another issue that’s usually associated with parental leave - the judgement of peers. The above-described stereotypes may not be ones of the father himself, but rather the people he works with. This, in turn, leads to them perceiving the new parent as weak, lacking work commitment, etc.

The negative opinion then contributes to a hostile work environment. If left unaddressed, it can cause unrepairable damage to office culture, team alignment and productivity. And if the management has similar views, the new father may risk being demoted or fired altogether.

Benefits of Encouraging Men to Take Parental Leave 

As a decision-maker in your company, you are responsible to fight the above-described issues within your organisation. While paternity leave is a legal right of the employees, there’s a benefit for your company in nurturing a healthy approach to it. 

Promoting Gender Equality

The corporate world has improved massively in creating equal opportunities and requirements for both, men and women. However, there’s still a lot of work to be done in order to develop and nurture gender equality as a mindset.

While issues such as the gender pay gap and stunted growth have been, on a big part, solved, there is plenty of others to be addressed. An approach to paternity leave is one of them. By building a culture that isn’t frowning upon male employees taking time off to care for their newborn baby, you label your organisation as modern and prove you care for the people that work for you.

Relationship Building

Caring for your staff doesn’t just make you look good as a company. It makes your employees trust you. If you prioritise their needs, such as spending more time with their new baby, they will remember it. Naturally, when you look out for someone, they are likely to look out for you too.

First, it’s because of gratitude or because they feel like they have to return the favour. However, this becomes the foundation of a trust-driven relationship. Stronger relationships lead to a better understanding of one another’s needs and therefore better alignment and overall better results.

Handling Paternity Leave Requests

Let’s clarify that paternity leave requests, unlike casual time off requests, cannot be rejected unless they don’t meet very specific criteria. You cannot force them upon your staff either. What you can do is encourage them to take it. Best do it in a private one-to-one conversation, where you openly state you care for your employee and don’t want them to miss out on spending time with their new family member.

We understand it might be in your interest to have them attend to their duties as opposed to having them off. This may cause productivity issues within your organisation. However, expecting fathers are required to give a rather long notice before the due date. It leaves you plenty of time to prepare your business for their absence. And the best way of doing that is by adopting holiday tracking software

Software for Easier Management of Parental Leave 

Holiday approval historically can be problematic when handled via emails as opposed to having a centralised system. It’s prone to human error, such as forgetting to approve time off, not adding it to the calendar and many others.

Our Project edition offers an easy-to-use holiday tracking module, which allows you to approve parental leave requests as soon as they come in. It makes the time the employee is taking off visible to the entire team. It also takes care of financial tasks such as carry-over balances, holiday accrual and others.


Employers should feel encouraged to promote shared parental leave among employees and support it in any way they can. You should focus on building a culture that’s accepting of paternity leave and be ready as a business to remain functional when employees take it.

Using innovative, online timesheet software can help you effectively manage time off among your staff. The holiday tracking software grants you a centralised location in which to approve and manage staff annual leave, as well as track absence and manage parental leave.

Are you ready to start nurturing a healthier approach to paternity leave in your organisation? Give our staff holiday tracking module a go.

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Timesheet Portal online software provided by Anfold Software Ltd, a registered company in the UK.