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The Telegraph’s legal expert, Solicitor Advocate Frank Maguire of Thompsons Solicitors is an expert at winning compensation for clients in personal injury cases. This week he looks at the issue of paternity leave and why only just over half of eligible men take advantage of this benefit. 

Maternity leave is long established in statute and a vital foundation of our society ensuring as it does that a woman can raise a young family while maintaining her status and equality in the workplace. 

Any idea that a woman should be discouraged from taking her maternity leave is quickly shunned both by society and by the law

Paternity leave, however, is a different prospect.  The Employment Act 2002 allows two weeks paid paternity leave at a rate of £123 a week, provided the prospective father has worked for the employer for over 26 weeks and notice is given 15 weeks before the due date.

The criteria is stricter than maternity leave.

Given the relatively short period it may be surprising to hear that 45% of fathers do not take paternity leave.  The primary reason is that they fear that to do so would damage their prospects of promotion as well as their status in the workplace.

Another major deterrent to paternity leave is that young families cannot afford to have their income slashed, even if only for 2 weeks.

The onus should be on employers to understand the veiled stigma and pressure of paternity leave and remove it.

Taking two weeks leave shouldn’t put men at a disadvantage at work.  Adjusting to this notion would be of short-term benefit for the family and advantageous for employers in the long term.

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