New fathers are reluctant to ask to take paternity leave because they fear being ridiculed by their bosses, have their request turned down or, worst of all, put on the career slow track as a result, new research has revealed.
Unsympathetic bosses, along with not being able to afford to take as much time off as they would like, are the two main factors stopping fathers taking paternity leave, the study by finance company ING Direct has found.
Although new laws in the UK have given fathers the entitlement to a fortnight off work, in the vast majority of cases dads take less than a week.
Just one father in three took their full paternity entitlement, ING said.
A lack of money was the principal reason for dads returning to work sooner than they have to, with nearly half Ė 48 per cent Ė of fathers saying financial considerations were a key factor for staying at work.
While legally men are entitled to two weeks' paid paternity leave, the basic pay for this period is just £108.85 a week, said ING.
If employers do not add to this basic allowance a man on average pay would lose out to the tune of £724 of earnings over this period, it calculated.
After monetary constraints, work responsibilities and attitudes were the next biggest concern.
One father in ten said he felt his career would suffer if he took time off work to spend with his newborn child.
And a fifth said they needed to back in work "urgently", and one in eight reporting their employer was not parent friendly.
"Our research shows that men continue to choose to return to work early, with many mentioning the high financial cost of taking paternity leave as an important factor," said Lindsay Sinclair of ING Direct.
"It also appears that parents may not be making the right financial plans, with one in six men saying they regret not having enough savings to be able to take their full leave," she added.
"With good financial planning, new dads won't have to cut short their paternity leave," she concluded.