Employers are discriminating against fathers at work by refusing requests for flexible hours, forcing mothers to do more childcare.
Rigid attitudes are bad for fathers as they get less time with their families. Women also lose out in their own careers as a result, said Margot James, the business minister, calling it “discrimination”.
Ms James told MPs at the Women and Equalities Committee: “One of the reasons employers are less generous to fathers is that they are not so sure of their legal obligations to fathers as they are to mothers. “They think they can stand in the way more of what fathers need to do at home, and that is wrong.”
Shared parental leave is also under-utilised, the minister said, three years after the policy was launched.
“At the moment I think take-up is disappointing, it is under 10pc,” she said. “I would regard 25 pc as successful, anything over 20 pc as very encouraging, I don’t think we are going to see those figures.”
Ms James said an evaluation of the scheme will look at the types and categories of companies and fathers who are and are not taking shared leave, as well as “the barriers that fathers face” in asking for leave.