A CALL for paternity leave to be doubled to at least four weeks looks set to be debated in the Scottish Parliament after the summer recess.

Fulton MacGregor, a SNP MSP, launched a campaign earlier this year calling for the extension of paid leave to new fathers.

His proposal has now become SNP policy after delegates to his party’s conference backed his bid to increase the amount of time off from work for new fathers.

But the matter is reserved to Westminster and cannot become legally binding unless legislation is passed there.

MacGregor told The National he had received cross-party backing in Holyrood and was currently a slot was being looked at for MSPs to debate the issue in the coming months.

“I am hoping for a date in September of October to have a parliamentary debate,” he said.

A debate in Holyrood will highlight awareness of the issue further.

MacGregor’s resolution, passed at the SNP conference, welcomed the flexibility that shared parental leave – introduced by the UK Government – but also argued that the responsibility of childcare should not fall disproportionately on mothers.

Currently, new fathers, partners of adopters, and intended parents having babies through surrogacy only receive 1 or 2 weeks’ statutory paternity leave.

MacGregor highlighted international research that has shown the benefits of increased paternity leave, including greater maternal wellbeing and reduced incidence of postnatal depression.

The Scottish Government has already taken steps to offer staff four weeks’ paternity leave on full pay.

Following the resolution being backed by delegates, MacGregor aid: “I am delighted to receive conference’s backing for my campaign. The UK government cannot ignore the range of evidence that proves how beneficial extending paternity leave will be – from improving maternal wellbeing to reducing postnatal depression.

“The Scottish Government has already taken action to offer staff four weeks’ paternity leave on full pay, helping reduce the childcare burden for new mothers, and allowing new fathers, partners of adopters and parents having babies through surrogacy the chance to spend more time with their newborn child – which studies have shown is incredibly beneficial for all.

“The time has come for the UK government to act, and to double statutory entitlement of paternity leave. Two weeks simply isn’t enough.”

Research from the Scottish Parliament’s independent information centre found evidence suggests a link between longer paternity leave and greater involvement of fathers in the early lives of their children benefitting all the family.

Couples in Iceland are allowed nine months’ paid leave at around 80% of salary. Three months is reserved for the mother, three months must be taken by the father and the couple can choose to share the remaining three. By 2007, dads were taking their full allocation of 13 weeks, the rest was being taken by the mother. New parents in Sweden are entitled to 480 days of leave at 80% of their normal pay. Fathers get 90 paid paternity days to promote bonding between father and child.