Fathers sharing parental leave 'could face stigma'

Taking up the government's shared parental leave opportunities could leave many men facing workplace discrimination, it has been suggested.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Rob Williams, chief executive of the Fatherhood Institute, said men will be mindful of appearing less dedicated to their work.

"There is a stigma around men taking time out to care for their children," he explained. "We do think that when a man asks for any time off to spend it with his family he is almost coming out as not a committed career man."

Mr Williams said dads who share parental leave with their partners could be made to feel less reliable than their colleagues, unless their employer is committed to stamping out such discrimination in the workplace.

"It is much easier for a woman to ask for flexible working than a man," he claimed. "You can change the structure of leave but you can still have that cultural block."

His comments come after the government announced plans to allow parents of newborn babies to share their maternity and paternity leave from 2015 onwards.

Business secretary Vince Cable said the new system, which would see mothers who choose to return to work early pass on any of their unused leave to the father, provides greater choice and flexibility for modern families.

This would mean that fathers could take up to five and a half months of paid paternity leave, but Mr Williams believes the fear of being stigmatised will prevent many men from actually going down this route.