New HR and payroll data analysis from HR software provider Octopus HR, on paternity leave and the working habits of new dads, has found that very few fathers are actually taking the two weeks’ paternity leave to which they are entitled in the UK.

Octopus HR analysed 51,082 records of male employees working full time at 214 companies during a four-year period between 1 June 2010 and 31st May 2014. The data revealed that 43.32% of new fathers are taking five days or less paternity leave, which is only half of their two week entitlement. In fact, 15% are taking less than five days leave and only 5.45% are taking more than 10 days leave.

Paternity leave was introduced in the UK over 10 years ago, in 2003, providing a statutory rate of pay of £138.18 per week (or 90% of your usual earnings if lower). Paul Beaumont, Managing Director of Octopus HR, says: “Paternity leave was brought in to encourage fathers to help look after their new baby and whilst some employers now offer more generous and flexible paternity packages than the legislation sets out, many new dads simply can’t afford to be off work. Whilst financial reasons are arguably the main driver for this, the reality is that new dads also know they will have to pick up where they left off two weeks later and inevitably have to work late to make up for the lost time!”

The Octopus HR data also showed that men who were new fathers were less likely to leave their employer than men without children. Beaumont explains: “During the period in which the data was analysed, the men who had taken paternity leave were 40% more likely to remain at the same employer than other men. This illustrates the high value that new fathers place on job security and their tendency to therefore offer their employers more loyalty.

“New parents often come up for criticism within the workplace, but our findings show that new dads are actually very good for business! They’re keen, committed and loyal. They are less likely to leave their jobs than other men, and the figures even reveal that the men who had taken paternity leave also took less sick leave than their colleagues!

“Hopefully, this research will encourage UK businesses to take a closer look at their paternity packages and consider offering new fathers a better deal, safe in the knowledge that they are potentially some of their most loyal and reliable employees.”