Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. UK introduces more paternity rights as work-life balance shiftsOn 11 Dec 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article At the end of the last decade UK employers were more likely than almost anyothers in Europe to introduce enhanced statutory paternity leave.Rather than indicating superior provision, UK leadership was due to a lowbaseline – fathers had no rights in the first place. This was unlike themajority of European countries where the law provides working fathers withrights to unpaid parental leave and to some paid time off when their childrenare born. The EU Directive on Parental Leave has since put the UK on par with the restof Europe, and two weeks’ paid paternity leave is promised from 2003. Four out of 10 UK employers chose to make provisions prior to the Directivewhich demonstrates a shift in awareness. For too long family friendly policieswere simply equated with policies for working mothers. Other European countries, particularly in the Nordic region, moved muchearlier to acknowledge fathers’ rights. After over 20 years of the formal right to take time off for familyresponsibilities, 40 per cent of Nordic fathers actually take up their rights,encouraged by tax penalties if they don’t and generous financing at about 80per cent of average salaries if they do. Financial reasons are not the only incentives. Employers are increasinglyrecognising that time at home is not simply lost time – the challenges oforganising a busy household can provide new skills and experiences and add newfacets to personal development. The next challenge to the scope of family leave comes from across theAtlantic. In the US, family leave is not limited to care for young children butincludes everyone in the family from the spouse to elderly relatives. And – inthe spirit of flexible working – leave entitlements can be taken in units ofsix minutes rather than one week at a time as in the UK.