FATHERS should have the same access to NHS parenting classes and the same right to flexible working hours as mothers, MSPs have advised.
Fathers are being “discouraged from attending pre and post-natal classes and support groups”, Holyrood’s Equal Opportunities Committee has found.
The committee is also concerned about an “imbalance in parental leave and access to flexible working for fathers”.
It has challenged the conception that “parenting in solely a mother’s job” in a report on fathers and parenting, which found that fathers are being “marginalised”.
The committee has taken evidence from dads from different backgrounds who believe their involvement in child rearing should be the norm.
While the committee commends the Scottish Government for taking steps to address the lack of imagery of fathers in its literature and guidance, it said more could be done.
Convener Margaret McCulloch said: “We heard from so many fathers who wanted to take an active part in their children’s lives but who felt marginalised by society right at the start of their role in being discouraged from attending pre and post-natal classes and support groups.
“Yet, we know that by engaging fathers early, they stay involved with their child, even if the parents separate.
“Equally, we were not surprised to hear that the same childcare and flexible working issues keeping women from actively participating in the workplace, also keep fathers from parenting.
“We are concerned by this imbalance in parental leave and access to flexible working for fathers. These issues must be addressed if we are to improve outcomes for children and parents right across Scotland.”
The Committee has also called on the Scottish Government to issue good-practice guidance on including new fathers in written publications, and promote policies “that are not perceived by fathers as tokenistic”.
The Government should also support the establishment of new groups and help existing groups to grow and help single fathers and fathers in rural areas, it said.