A CAMPAIGN has been launched calling for paternity leave to be doubled to at least four weeks.

SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor is arguing for statutory leave to be increased and says Scottish employers could voluntarily offer enhanced leave in the meantime.

New dads can currently take up to two weeks’ statutory paternity leave to help care for their new-born baby while some employers offer enhanced leave or pay.

All Scottish Government employees are currently entitled to four weeks’ paternity leave and MacGregor wants other employers to match this.

He says studies have found a link between longer paternity leave and a range of positive outcomes including greater maternal well-being, reduced incidence of postnatal depression and fewer behavioural problems in children.

“The early weeks of parenthood are wonderful but can be hugely challenging,” said MacGregor.

“As a dad to a young family myself, I know that it can be very difficult to go back to work after a couple of weeks and just leave a new mum to get on with it.

“Women are still expected to provide the majority of care for their children in the early years but most men want to play a bigger role in parenting.

“There’s a wealth of evidence that longer paternity leave can encourage greater involvement of fathers in the future, with a range of benefits to the child and parents.

“The UK government should increase the legal entitlement to paternity leave – but in the meantime, employers in Scotland should take a lead by offering a better deal to their workers.

“I’m calling on employers to recognise the enormous benefits to their employees of a better paternity deal and offer four weeks leave to new dads – just as the Scottish Government already does.”

The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) added: “The evidence suggests that there is a link between longer paternity leave and the greater involvement of fathers in the early lives of their children. In turn, this involvement appears to have a number of beneficial effects for fathers, mothers and the children themselves.”