Since 2003, fathers have been entitled to paid paternity leave after the birth of their child.

A number of policies have subsequently been introduced to support working fathers, including time off to attend antenatal appointments, shared parental leave and the right to request flexible working.

However, a new report from MPs shows that many working fathers don't take advantage of this flexibility as they are concerned about the reaction of their employer.

The report suggests that the reason behind this is "outdated assumptions" of employers and the failure of employers to keep workplace policies up to date with changes in flexible working for men, despite the fact that fathers' participation in the care of their children has steadily increased over the past few years.

A number of key recommendations are set out to resolve this:

  • Give fathers who are employees the right to paid time off to attend antenatal appointments as a day-one right;
  • Introduce a new policy of 12 weeks' leave for fathers in the child's first year to replace shared parental leave;
  • Legislate immediately to implement the Prime Minister's call for all jobs to be advertised as flexible from day one, unless there is a substantial business reason not to;
  • Provide the same rights for fathers who are agency workers or self-employed as those who are employed;
  • Consider the benefits of amending the protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010 to add an additional characteristic of 'paternity'.

A review of shared parental leave will take place in 2018 which will provide a further opportunity to consider how to remove the barriers to flexibility for fathers in the workplace. Look out for further updates.