Prince William is blazing a new trail for heirs to the British throne. When his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, gives birth this month (any day now), he’ll get two weeks statutory paternity leave, which England instituted in 2003 for new fathers.
But there are some in England who think that is not enough leave — not just for Prince William, but in general for British fathers — because it continues the attitude that men are the breadwinners.
“There is an element that employers — and men themselves — are thinking of them as the ones who earn the money and stick in that role when children come along,” Jeremy Davies of the Fatherhood Institute tells the AP. “It can be quite difficult to set yourself apart from that.”
Women in British can take up to a year off after the birth of a child, though only the first 39 weeks is paid leave. Men are entitled to a flat pay rate of 137 pounds a week, though Prince William will receive his full pay for the two weeks because he is a military employee.
There is also a new change that says new fathers can take up to six months leave by using some of the year their partner is entitled to after she has returned to work. But many do not because they just can’t afford it.
The AP cites the Swedish system, which gives new parents 16 months leave, but two months of that can only be taken by the mother and two months can only be taken by the father, thereby encouraging months where the father is primary caregiver while the mother works.
In the U.S., some companies offer paternity leave, but most companies only offer unpaid leave.
Davies thinks it would be wonderful if Prince William would take some time off to be the primary caregiver for his new baby, setting a new example for British fathers.
would be fantastic would be to see Prince William to take some time
where he was the primary carer at some time during the first year. That’s the stuff that leads to a really strong
relationship with the child,” says Davies.