New dads should have at least four weeks paternity leave not two, says SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor.
The dad-of-two is urging Scottish employers to offer enhanced leave – in line with Scottish Government policy for their employees who are entitled to four weeks off.
Here, Fulton, along with other SNP dads and dads-to-be, explains why the statutory entitlement of two weeks is just not enough.
Fulton MacGregor, SNP MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston, said:
It’s important for dads to get that time to bond with their new baby and develop the relationship early on. It’s also important to get confident with holding the wee one and believing that you can meet their needs.
Giving dads more time to bond and attach to their children is one reason I want paternity leave to be longer. But equally as important is that it can help alleviate the pressure on the new mum.
Increased paternity leave would allow mum and dad to bond with their new baby together and share the load of childcare, particularly where there are older children and perhaps only limited family support.
The science backs this up. A number of studies have found a link between longer paternity leave and a range of positive outcomes, including greater maternal well-being, reduced incidence of postnatal depression and fewer behavioural problems in children.
I hope that all employers in Scotland follow on from the Scottish Government and grant new dads a minimum of four weeks’ paternity leave.
Neil Gray, SNP MP for Airdrie and Shotts, and dad-of-two, said:
Part of the problems we are still seeing with the gender pay and employment gaps will be helped if more fathers take a greater responsibility at home. It has been part of much of what I have been saying at Westminster.
I was really lucky that I was able to spend a good chunk of time at home after the birth of both of our children. It is such a critical time for the whole family, in terms of bonding, but also the changes that happen at home following the birth of a child.
Affording dads more time at home gifts them precious time to adjust to being a dad and to get to know their child. It should also break the default position of mum taking on all the caring responsibilities and ensures dads have a greater role from the start.
Those early weeks are crucial. You don’t get that time back. And as an employer, in terms of the employee you get back, there is growing evidence to support the theory that increased flexibility and supporting a greater work/life balance reaps rewards in the workplace through greater loyalty and productivity.
I will be doing what I can to push for greater paternity and shared parental leave to help bring greater equality at home and in the workplace, but also to make sure dads have the best opportunity to give their children the best start in life.
Gareth Finn, an SNP activist, is expecting his first child with wife Gail this year, said:
Impending parenthood is an exciting, challenging but worthwhile experience for everyone and has filled me with so much happiness. As this is our first child, my wife and I are already looking forward to life with our little bundle of joy and how we will cope with this massive change in our lives.
I feel it is vitally important for a positive relationship to be established between fathers and their child from a very young age as this can only be a good thing longer term and I am keen to be the best father I can possibly be.
I very much welcome the campaign that Fulton MacGregor has launched as it would give me more time to bond with our baby and allow me to support my wife much more during the first few weeks of the new arrival to our family than the present system allows.