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Paternal Leave Entitlement and Workplace Culture: A Key Challenge to Paternal Mental Health

Gheyoh Ndzi, Ernestine and Holmes, Amy (2023) Paternal Leave Entitlement and Workplace Culture: A Key Challenge to Paternal Mental Health. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20 (8). p. 5454.

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Paternal mental health continues to be a health concern in the UK. Paternal leave entitlement and workplace cultures have failed to support fathers in navigating the complexity of fatherhood, which has an impact on fathers’ wellbeing. Interviewing twenty fathers in the York area, this study seeks to explore the impact of parental leave entitlements and workplace cultures on fathers’ mental health. The findings demonstrate that the influence of gendered norms and hegemonic masculinity perceptions are ingrained in the current leave entitlement and workplace cultures. While fathers are entitled to take leave, the leave is significantly insufficient to allow them to forge a meaningful bond with a newborn or adapt to the change in routine brought about by the birth of a baby. Furthermore, workplace cultures fail to recognise the responsibilities that come with fatherhood and provide insufficient support for fathers. The COVID-19 lockdown presented fathers with a unique opportunity to be available and take on more family responsibilities. Fathers felt they did not have to navigate gendered and hegemonic perceptions to spend more time with the family. This paper challenges structural and cultural barriers that prevent fathers from taking leave and impacting negatively on fathers’ mental health. The paper suggests a review of the current paternal leave entitlement and cultural change in the workplace.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20085454
School/Department: York Business School
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/7873

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