Leave in the lurch

Paternity leave, gender equality and the UK economy

15 June 2023

By Rosie Fogden, Tanya Singh, Taisiya Merkulova, Joeli Brearley, Lauren Fabianski and Ben Franklin

3 minute read

Download the report, Leave in the lurch: Paternity leave, gender equality and the UK economy

CPP has joined forces with campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed (PTS) and Women in Data® to publish new research on the societal and economic impact of paternity leave.

The UK has the least generous paternity leave entitlement in Europe. Currently, the statutory entitlement to paternity leave is two weeks and the weekly rate for paternity pay is £172 a week, which is 44% of the national living wage.

The report looks at public attitudes to paternity leave, the experiences of parents, and the economic impact of more generous paternity leave entitlements across OECD countries.

CPP’s analysis of OECD data finds that countries with more than six weeks of paid paternity leave have a 4-percentage point smaller gender wage gap and 3.7 percentage point smaller labour force participation gap than countries that have less than six weeks.[i]

Analysis in CPP’s recent Fair growth report found that closing the gender employment gap in all UK local authorities would increase economic output by £23bn (approximately 1% of GDP).

New analysis of PTS and Women in Data®’s 2023 State of the Nation survey of parents finds that for 1 in 5 (20%) dads, no parental leave options were available to them following the birth or adoption of their child. Of those that were entitled to some leave, but returned to work early, 43% cited financial hardship as the reason for not taking their full entitlement.

New nationally representative survey data commissioned for this report finds that fewer than one in five (18%) prospective parents say they or their partner could afford to take six weeks of paternity leave at the current statutory rate of pay. By contrast, 57% of prospective parents said they or their partner could afford to take six weeks of paternity leave if it was paid at 90% of their income, as statutory maternity pay is for women.

Almost a third (29%) of parents surveyed said either they or their partner had experienced a new mental health issue in the two years following the birth of their most recent child. 83% of mothers with children under 12 thought that increasing paid paternity leave would have a positive impact on mothers’ mental health.

CPP and Pregnant then Screwed are calling on the government to increase the length of non-transferable paternity leave to a minimum of six weeks and to pay it at 90% of income in line with current statutory maternity pay, alongside enhancing existing maternity rights to reduce financial hardship, the gender employment gap, and the gender pay gap. Paternity leave should be available to all working dads and partners.


[i] The OECD analysis is based on a difference in differences regression model which draws on data from 38 countries from the period 1975 to 2021. It isolates the impact of paternity leave entitlements on the gender wage and participation gap by looking at these before and after the policy was introduced and controls for both common shocks across countries at particular times and time-invariant characteristics specific to each country.

Pregnant then Screwed’s State of the Nation Survey was carried out in January to February 2023 and results have been sampled and weighted by Women in Data to give a final sample of 3,540 parents that targets national representation.

Pregnant then Screwed and CPP also commissioned YouGov to carry out a nationally representative poll of 2,136 adults on 22nd to 23rd May 2023.