The majority of British adults now believe professional couples should take equal responsibility for early childcare, according to research by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
The survey of more than 2,000 UK adults reveals that 53% believe if both parents are in work they should split responsibilities evenly.
A further 22% believe couples should have the right to determine how much leave the each take – depending on their circumstances.
Less than one-quarter of those polled believe the mother should have to take on the lion’s share of childcare responsibility.
The survey comes ahead of the implementation of the government’s flagship Shared Parental Leave (SPL) policy from 5 April 2015. Under the new rules working parents will be able to split 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay between them in the baby’s first year.
The spirit of the policy has been met with almost universal praise from employees and parents’ groups; although some business groups have complained at the lack of information around its administration.
6 in 10 working men believe the policy will allow them to form closer blonds with their children. Around 4 in 5 say they will contemplate taking the increased leave as and when they have children.
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg expressed the view that the “Edwardian” notion that women should be the main carer for children “has no place in this day and age”.
“That’s why we’ve introduced SPL so that parents can make their own decisions about how to raise their family – whether it’s giving women the choice to go back to work earlier or men the opportunity to spend more time with their children,” he added.
Employment relations minister Jo Swinson said that the poll results show that “people are rejecting dated stereotypes about the roles of men and women”.
“Helping new parents negotiate the balance between their work and family responsibilities will benefit employers through greater staff retention and loyalty,” she explained.
Further reading: A basic guide to Shared Parental Leave