More than half of new Australian fathers aren’t taking their full parental leave entitlements, in part because of fears about workplace culture, while most men face unequal leave provisions.
Recruitment firm Hays surveyed 842 Australians about parental leave, and the findings suggest there is an ingrained negative perception of fathers who take annual leave.
According to Hays, 54 per cent of new fathers said financial impacts were the chief concern, however a little over one-third (34 per cent) admitted fearing adverse ramifications in the workplace, such as appearing less committed to their job.
A further 12 per cent of people said they believed parental leave was the sole right and responsibility of new mothers.
However, employers have a key role to play in any attempt to shift this perception, given that just 19 per cent of those surveyed said their employer offers the same parental leave arrangements for men as they do for women.
“We need to start offering and accepting the decision of men to work flexibly and take an equal amount of paternity leave without making assumptions about their career motivations or applying unconscious or otherwise career consequences,” said Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia and New Zealand.
“If more employers do this, it will reduce the stigma around men taking on equal caring responsibilities and could help improve female gender equality in the workplace.”
Mr Deligiannis pointed to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who last year took two months’ parental leave after his daughter was born.
“It would be great to see more men leading by example like this so that other men – and women – feel they can do the same without it impacting their career,” he said.