Why is paternity leave not taken by all fathers?

Although it now includes a compulsory leave period, some fathers do not take their paternity leave. What are the brakes that still prevent new fathers from taking a break? A study examines this question.

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The new version paternity leave, since last year, is part of a compulsory work stoppage, seven days in all, and 21 days to be taken in the first six months of the child. Problem: all fathers, far from it, do not take these optional days. A study by the Center for Studies and Research on Qualifications (Cereq) highlights the obstacles to taking this leave. They depend in particular on the level of income. There is reluctance for the lowest and highest salaries.

Take-up of paternity leave is lowest at both ends. It is lowest among fathers with the lowest incomes, who are still two thirds to take their leave. It is also lower among those who earn the best living. On the other hand, among intermediate incomes, between 2,500 and 2,900 euros, young dads accept en masse to stop working to accompany the arrival of the child. According to Cereq, it is because the lowest incomes fear the consequences of taking leave on their professional career. And for the highest salaries, it is because they exercise a management position and therefore feel more indispensable.

Company size also matters

But other factors influence the taking of paternity leave. Thus the use of leave is three times lower among fathers who have been in their company for less than a year compared to those who have been there for at least two years. The size of the company also matters. In companies with more than 200 employees, paternity leave is more readily taken than in smaller structures. Finally, the fact of being on a permanent contract plays a very favorable role, and recourse to paternity leave is lowest among the self-employed who, because they are less compensated, shun this possibility of stopping work.

The level of education also plays a role. Fathers with a bac+3 or more are two and a half times more likely to take optional paternity leave than those with only a baccalaureate. The phenomenon also works when it is the mother who is a graduate: when the mother has done more studies than the father, paternity leave is taken twice as often.

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