Extended paternity leave, and the increased parental involvement it allows, has wide-reaching benefits for dads, their children, and employers. It’s been shown to have a positive effect on the gender pay gap, enabling a more equal split of time out of work to care for children. However, barriers to extended paternity leave and flexible working exist, including workplace stigma and culture, and financial considerations. These barriers can prevent dads from taking leave and having adequate time to care for their children.

Explore the research findings

The report, which follows the completion of the CIPD’s Parent Returner Programme, presents recommendations on what more employers could do to support extended paternity leave, as well as advice for employers on how to promote an open culture where men feel able to take this form of leave.

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Managing extended paternity leave

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Key findings

A key finding of the survey data, which is also reflected in wider gender pay gap literature, is that fathers (often the higher earners) tend to return to work earlier and work more than mothers after starting a family. Consequently, mothers take on a greater share of childcare, which can be detrimental to their career.

Key highlights from the report include:

Men face barriers to taking extended paternity leave

  • 73% of men surveyed believe there’s a stigma attached to taking extended paternity leave.
  • 95% of men surveyed agreed that workplace culture needs to be transformed to normalise men taking extended paternity leave.
However, initiatives exist that can help dads return to work after a break.
  • 73% of men surveyed said that having information from employers on employment policies and rights would be appealing to them.
  • 59% of men surveyed said that scheduled conversations with line managers about the realities of parenting and the effect on work would be appealing to them.

Flexible working supports returning dads and benefits employers

  • 95% of dads said that working flexibly has increased the likelihood of them remaining with their current employer.
  • 70% of dads said that working flexibly has increased their motivation at work.

You can explore these findings in more detail by downloading the full report.


  • Create an open culture where men taking extended paternity leave is a normal part of working life.
  • Reduce financial barriers to taking extended paternity leave. Where possible, offer enhanced paternity pay in addition to extended paternity or shared parental leave.
  • Offer ‘keep in touch’ (KIT) days, phased returns to work, and cover during extended paternity leave.
  • Line managers should discuss preferred levels of contact ahead of extended paternity leave, to set out expectations and preferences from both sides.
  • Create in-work schemes and initiatives; for example, a mentoring scheme or parents’ network.
  • Build greater flexibility into working patterns, as this can help working parents manage their other commitments.
  • Be open to changing flexible working arrangements as the needs of employees’ families change.
  • Develop managers to effectively manage flexible workers and ensure career progression is not hampered by taking extended paternity leave.
  • Be transparent with take-up rates for paternity leave, shared parental leave and flexible working.

To explore these recommendations in more detail, download the full report.

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