With Father’s Day this weekend (18 June), a new report suggests that new dads rarely take paternity leave after the birth of a child. “Measly” paternity rights are blamed.
The UK offers new dads up to two weeks paternity leave, compared to 52 weeks for new mothers.
A study conducted by YouGov and commissioned by the charity Pregnant The Screwed, the Centre for Progressive Policy thinktank (CPP) and Women in Data found that just 18% of dads believe paternity leave should be restricted to two weeks or less, with 62% saying they would take more leave if the rate of statutory paternity pay was increased.
The research says that two decades after fathers were given the right to paternity leave, the UK now trails its European neighbours with the least generous entitlement. In Spain for example, new fathers can take 16 weeks paternity leave on full pay.
The research, published in a report titled Leave in the lurch: Paternity leave, gender equality and the UK economy, argues there would be offering greater levels of paternity leave could be a factor in helping to close the gender pay gap. Countries that offer six weeks or more paternity leave had a smaller gender pay gap and a smaller labour force participation gap.
The report argues that the low rate of pay available to fathers after the birth of a child denies many time with their babies, puts stress on families and damages the mental health of both parents.
Separate research from the TUC suggests fathers in low-paid roles are less likely to take paternity leave, with one in five fathers taking no paternity leave at all. When they did, half of families struggled financially.
To qualify for paternity leave, an individual must legally be classed as an employee and must have worked for their employer continuously for 26 weeks. They must also be the child’s father or married to, the civil partner or partner to the mother or birth parent.
Fathers on paternity leave will be paid £172.48 a week or 90% of your average weekly wage, whichever is lower.
New fathers may also be entitled to shared parental leave, allowing them to share with the mother up to 50 weeks of parental leave. To qualify, a father must be sharing the responsibility with the other parent from the day of the child’s birth, be classed as an employee and have worked for their employer continuously for 26 weeks. Notice will need to be given to an employer.
Increasing paternity leave to a minimum of six weeks at 90% of salary, the YouGov research suggests, would cost the country between £1 billion and £1.6 billion, but closing the gender employment gap could increase economic output by up to £23 billion.
Now that would be a win win for both fathers and mothers.
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Rhian Radia is a Partner and Head of the Employment team. For initial advice or to arrange a meeting with one of our Employment team, please email email@example.com or call on 020 7631 4141
The above is accurate as at 16 June 2023. The information above may be subject to change.
The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.