Research finds half of fathers are unaware of Shared Parental Leave – but the government says more research is needed before higher funding can be given.

Campaigners and charities have criticised the government’s response to the Women and Equalities Select Committee’s report on supporting fathers in the workplace.

In March the Committee published its report Fathers and the Workplace. It  called for new measures on paternity leave and pay, shared parental leave (SPL) and  the right to flexible working.

However, the government said that further research and debate was needed before it could provide more funding.

“Family-friendly working policies can offer huge benefits to employers and workers alike, whether this means extended parental leave, flexible working, or options for job shares. We hope to see more employers introducing inclusive policies for both men and women, to help working parents strike a balance and get the most out of their lives inside and outside work.”

Meanwhile research from insurers, Aviva found that nearly half (46%) of working fathers are unaware they are entitled to take SPL.

Aviva’s survey of parents with children found that one in 10 dads (11%) took no time off when their most recent child was born. The report urged businesses to do more to make sure fathers know their rights.

They found a lack of funding was a significant factor in the low take up of SPL. As many as 86% of fathers would have taken more time off, but felt discouraged by financial implications and employer constraints. Fifty-two per cent of parents believed there should be more support from the government for equal parental leave, while 69% wanted greater assistance for flexible working.

Nine out of 10 parents questioned (93%) felt that employers should give both mothers and fathers equal parental leave when a new child arrives. But the majority of fathers (56%) took less than a month off work when their most recent child was born or adopted; the time taken by this group was typically 12 days. By comparison mothers took more than a year off work on average.

Out of the fathers surveyed, 93% said they would have taken longer off work when their child arrived if their employer had allowed it. However, 67% per cent would have only done so if the leave was paid.

Read about the rights of working parents here.

Is it discriminatory to have different rates for Shared Parental Pay and Maternity Pay? Find out why not here.