Fathers at work: Explaining the gaps between entitlement to leave policies and uptake

Alison Koslowski, Gitit Kadar-Satat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Why are fathers in Scotland unlikely to use the full range of leave benefits available to them? Taking a capabilities approach allows us to explore the perspective that some fathers may experience an agency gap and thus not have the capabilities to utilise entitlements. This paper addresses the question empirically using a mixed-methods design which includes: analysis of data from the Growing up in Scotland study, 20 in-depth qualitative interviews with fathers of young children working in the public sector in dual-earner couples, as well as an audit of extra-statutory benefits offered to fathers by employers. We argue that the reliance on an extra-statutory leave system in the UK explains at least part of the gap between fathers’ entitlement to and uptake of statutory leave, as such benefits are not routinely available to all parents. The extra-statutory entitlement is more than just a ‘top-up’ to the statutory; it is rather a conversion factor for the take up of statutory entitlement, by fathers. Organisational cultural norms support many employed fathers in taking a couple of weeks leave post-birth, but longer leave duration for fathers is not yet a usual parenting practice in Scotland, particularly lower down the income distribution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-145
Number of pages17
JournalCommunity, Work and Family
Issue number2
Early online date28 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • fathers
  • leave policies
  • leave uptake
  • statutory benefits
  • extra-statutory benefits
  • capabilities approach


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