One in five working fathers miss out on paternity pay

By agency reporter
June 20, 2016

New analysis published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) on 18 June 2016 reveals that one in five new fathers did not qualify for paternity pay.

There are nearly 600,000 working fathers around the UK who have had a child in the past 12 months. However, around a fifth (22 per cent) of them – more than 131,000 – did not qualify for two weeks’ statutory paternity pay.

The main reason is that they were self-employed – this affected nearly 99,000 working fathers.

More than 32,000 did not get paid paternity leave because they had not been working for their companies long enough. This is because the law requires employees to have at least six months’ service with their current employer by the 15th week before the baby is due in order to qualify for paternity leave.

The TUC is concerned that so many fathers are missing out on the chance to spend valuable time at home with their partners and babies, and fears many more fathers do not take paternity leave because they cannot afford to.

Some fathers benefit from fully-paid paternity leave from their employer, in particular those who are higher-paid and in professional jobs. However many, especially those at the lower end of the income scale, struggle to afford to take the time off because statutory paternity pay is just £139.58 a week.

This is around half what someone earning the minimum wage would earn over a 35-hour week (£252) and less than a quarter of male full-time median weekly earnings (£567.20).

The TUC says the government  could introduce a paternity allowance for fathers who are not eligible for statutory paternity pay. This would be similar to the maternity allowance which self-employed mothers and mothers who have notbeen with their employers long enough can claim.

The TUC also believes that employees should be entitled to statutory paternity leave from their first day in the job, in the same way that maternity leave is a day one right, and that paternity pay should be increased.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “All fathers should be able to spend time with their families when a new baby comes along. Paid paternity leave and shared parental leave have been important steps forward, but many families are missing out on these benefits – or simply can’t afford to use them.

“When fathers share caring responsibilities it helps strengthen relationships, improve child well-being and makes it easier for mothers to continue their careers. We’d like to see all dads being given a right to longer, better-paid leave when a child is born."

A government survey (DWP/BIS Maternity and Paternity Rights and Women Returners Survey 2009/10) found that fathers in unionised workplaces get better access to family leave arrangements: “Fathers who worked in a workplace that had no recognised trades union were more likely to report having no access to family leave arrangements (22 per cent), compared with 10 per cent of fathers working in an organisation with a trades union. The latter group was also more likely to have access to three or more family leave arrangement.” .

“I would urge all parents and parents-to-be to join a union to make sure their interests are represented and their voices heard at work”, said Frances O'Grady.

* TUC https://www.tuc.org.uk/

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