Parents at Stirling Council have hailed the benefits of having four weeks fully-paid paternity leave – one year on from the local authority approving the historic move.
Claire, Skye and Barry Spence

New fathers or partners were previously able to take one week paid leave and one week leave at the statutory paternity rate. Many didn’t take the second week given the drop in earnings.

Since the introduction of this progressive policy, 20 new fathers at the Council have being able to spend extra time with their young families and support their wife/partner around the time of birth or adoption.

Time off was invaluable

Barry Spence, Insurance Officer at the Council, said: “The four week paternity leave came in just before my daughter, Skye, was born so I would have been one of the first to be able to take advantage of it.

“This time off was invaluable as it not only gave me four weeks with my new baby to go for walks and enjoy my time with her, but also allowed me to support my wife for four weeks as we adjusted to a majorly new way of living.

“Being able to get up throughout the night was so much easier knowing I had no work in the morning. Having that month really allowed us to adjust and made life so much easier and enjoyable.

“Mothers, for obvious reasons need time off, but nowadays I think it only fair dads get a decent bit of time off, too. It was a great time, helped greatly by the four weeks paternity leave.”

Better outcomes for children

Various international studies have found a link between longer paternity leave and:

  • Greater involvement of fathers in the early lives of their children
  • Greater maternal well-being and reduced incidence of postnatal depression in both mother and father
  • Better outcomes for children, including better peer relationships, literacy and fewer behavioural problems
  • Increased sharing of household work and a strong link between taking paternity leave and breastfeeding.

James Philliben, who works in the Council’s Land Services and Cemeteries Team, said: “The increase in paternity leave helped a lot as I could be there for my family for the first and most important few weeks with my little one. I enjoyed the time off and think it’s a good idea.”

The measure was unanimously given the green light at a meeting of the Council’s Finance and Economy Committee in June 2018, making Stirling Council one of the first Scottish local authorities to deliver this employee benefit.

Value and support our hardworking staff

Convener of the Committee Margaret Brisley said: “We are proud that Stirling Council has led the way on extending paternity leave and other issues such as the Living Wage. This shows we value and support our hardworking staff who deliver key services for communities across Stirling.

“We took this progressive step as there are clear benefits of having both parents present at the early stages of birth, and it’s fantastic to hear positive feedback from fathers like Barry and James in the first year of the improved conditions.”

The move came after a new study found that the number of men in the UK taking paternity leave has fallen every year for the past four years. The research, carried out by law firm EMW law, revealed that less than one in three eligible fathers (31 per cent) took paternity leave in 2018/19 compared with 34 per cent in 2014/15.

Vice Convener of Finance and Economy, Cllr Alison Laurie said: “The research and the experiences of Barry, James and other fathers at the Council shows that having both parents involved following a birth or adoption is hugely beneficial for the whole family.

“With studies showing that fewer fathers and partners are taking paternity leave, it’s crucial organisations like ours put these progressive paternity policies in place, and we will continue to look for ways to look after and support our dedicated staff.”

Picture details: 

Pictured are Barry Spence, his wife Claire and baby Skye as they celebrated her first birthday last week. Other photo is of James Philliben with his baby boy Lucas. 

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