The Scotsman

Call for paternity leave to be doubled

● SNP MSP argues perk enjoyed by civil servants should be extended nationwide

- By LAURA PATERSON

An SNP MSP has launched a campaign for paternity leave to be doubled.

Fulton Macgregor wants the UK Government to increase the statutory entitlemen­t for new fathers from two weeks off to four weeks.

He has called on employers across Scotland to voluntaril­y offer enhanced leave if they do not already.

All Scottish Government employees are entitled to four weeks’ paternity leave, which the Coatbridge and Chryston MSP wants other employers to match.

Research from the Scottish Parliament’s independen­t informatio­n centre found evidence suggests a link between longer paternity leave and greater involvemen­t of fathers in the early lives of their children.

The research found: “This involvemen­t appears to have a number of beneficial effects for fathers, mothers and the children themselves.”

Mr Macgregor, the deputy convener of Holyrood’s crossparty group on children and young people, said raising the entitlemen­t would have longstandi­ng benefits for ordinary families.

He said: “The early weeks of parenthood are wonderful and can be hugely challengin­g.

“As a dad to a young family myself, I know that it can be very difficult to go back to work after a couple of weeks and just leave a new mum to get on with it.

“Women are still expected to provide the majority of care for their children in the early years, but most men want to play a bigger role in parenting.

“There’s a wealth of evidence that longer paternity leave can encourage greater involvemen­t of fathers in the future, with a range of benefits to the child and parents.”

Mr Macgregor added: “The UK Government should increase the legal entitlemen­t to paternity leave – but in the meantime, employers in Scotland should take a lead by offering a better deal to their workers.

“I’m calling on employers to recognise the enormous benefits to their employees of a better paternity deal and offer four weeks’ leave to new dads – just as the Scottish Government already does.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoma­nsaid:“although the relevant legal powers are currently reserved to Westminste­r, we believe everyone should have access to reasonable­supportfro­mtheirempl­oyers when they become parents would encourage them to follow our lead to increase paternity leave for their workforce.”

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “We recently committed to providing new rights for millions of workers to keep our employment laws up to date with the changing world of work, as well as promoting current employment rights.

“That’s why we have launched a campaign to encourage more eligible working parents to share the joy of bringing up their child together by taking advantage of shared parental leave.

“Employers can also reap the benefits of shared parental leave, helping them to retain talent in their workforce and close their gender pay gap.”

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