PARENTS at Stirling Council have hailed the benefits of four week fully-paid paternity leave a year after the introduction of the move.

New fathers or partners were previously able to take just one week paid leave and another week at the statutory paternity rate, but many would not use the second week considering the drop in earnings.

Since the introduction of the policy, 20 new fathers at the council were given the chance to spend extra time at home.

Barry Spence, insurance officer at the council, said: “The four week paternity leave came in just before my daughter, Skye, was born so I would have been one of the first to be able to take advantage of it.

“This time off was invaluable as it not only gave me four weeks with my new baby to go for walks and enjoy my time with her, but also allowed me to support my wife for four weeks as we adjusted to a majorly new way of living.

“Being able to get up throughout the night was so much easier knowing I had no work in the morning. Having that month really allowed us to adjust and made life so much easier and enjoyable.

“Mothers, for obvious reasons need time off, but nowadays I think it only fair dads get a decent bit of time off, too. It was a great time, helped greatly by the four weeks paternity leave.”

Stirling council was the first local authority to introduce the employee benefit in Scotland as various international studies found strong links between longer paternity leave and greater maternal wellbeing as well as better outcomes for children.

James Philiben, who works with the land services and cemeteries team, added: “The increase in paternity leave helped a lot as I could be there for my family for the first and most important few weeks with my little one. I enjoyed the time off and think it’s a good idea.”

Councillor Margaret Brisley, convener of the Finance and Economy Committee which approved the move, said: “We are proud that Stirling Council has led the way on extending paternity leave and other issues such as the Living Wage.

“This shows we value and support our hardworking staff who deliver key services for communities across Stirling.

“We took this progressive step as there are clear benefits of having both parents present at the early stages of birth, and it’s fantastic to hear positive feedback from fathers like Barry and James in the first year of the improved conditions.”