Let's forget the numbers for a minute. Let's put to one side the concerns that small businesses have over administration costs, and so on. The latest proposal to increase the amount of paternity leave a father can take is an excellent idea.
Why? Because, at the moment, two weeks is not enough. Never mind the fact that Statutory Paternity Pay – at just over £100 a week – is barely enough to buy baby supplies for a couple of days; two weeks is a horribly short amount of time for any dad to spend with his new son or daughter.
The first two weeks are hectic, to say the least. You're trying to settle down, to bond as a new family, but everything seems to be moving at a frenetic pace.
It would be fine if this fortnight was a time for just the dad, his partner and the new arrival; but, as any new parent can testify, the first couple of weeks after the birth of a baby sees the family home besieged by hundreds of friends, family and well-wishers – many of whom turn up announced. They come and go, and by the time you get the chance to take stock and relax your baby is asleep, you're exhausted, and another day has passed.
Then, as a dad, you're back behind your desk before you know it, looking back over the last fortnight and trying to remember when you spent any quality time with your new baby. F
athers can feel pushed to one side as life moves on, spending a fleeting fortnight with their newborn before being thrust back into the world of work.
These current laws are archaic, and hark back to a time when fathers were much less concerned or involved with the upbringing of their child.
Dads are different now. We don't stand aloof as the mother raises the children. We're involved – we want to be involved. The latest proposals reflect this changing society, and give us the chance to bond with our baby. People may complain that small businesses will suffer, and maybe so – but, speaking as a dad from a purely selfish perspective, when I'm on paternity leave and holding my new baby I couldn't give a monkeys about work.
That's not to say that just dads go to work when a couple becomes a family. The number of stay-at-home dads is on the rise, as mums head out into the world of work to put bread on the table. Fifty years ago, the very idea of this would have been nonsense. These proposals allow flexibility between parents, so that they can do what is best for them and their new family.
As a dad, I welcome these new proposals. Sorry to all small business owners who may find the administration of these changes a headache, but if you gave me the choice between looking into my baby's eyes and going to work, I know which one I'd choose: and it doesn't involve a keyboard. I think I speak for all dads when I say this.
As the saying goes: no-one ever lay on their deathbed, surrounded by their family, and wished they'd spent more time in the office.
Do you agree with Ben? Or not? Tell us your thoughts...