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Low statutory paternity pay leaves families struggling financially

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Half of families struggle financially when dads or partners take paternity leave, a survey reveals.

Statutory paternity pay is currently £172.48 a week, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower), with paternity leave lasting one or two weeks.

According to the TUC, this low level of statutory paternity pay leaves many families struggling financially, and even stops one in five dads/partners taking leave at all following the birth of a baby.

For half of parents, they felt they weren’t able to take enough time off work as paternity leave to support their families, with one in four saying they can’t afford to reduce their income.

The TUC poll found that household income has a big impact on the take-up of paternity leave.

Nearly nine in 10 parents (86%) with a household income above £60,000 take statutory paternity leave provided by their employer.

But this figure falls to 65% for dads/partners with a household income under £25,000.

Further, just one in seven fathers with household income under £25,000 take a more generous form of paternity leave than just the statutory entitlement. This compares to the 35% where household income tops £80,000.

Meanwhile, when it comes to self-employed dads and partners, the TUC found only a third took time off when a baby was born.

Self-employed workers aren’t currently eligible for any statutory paternity pay and the TUC warned this reduces their ability to take time off work for the arrival of a new baby.

Its poll of 2,006 parents also revealed that nearly one in five (18%) dads/partners are still doing some work while on paternity leave – rising to almost one in three for part-time workers.

More than one in five (22%) do this because of the demands of their workload, while a similar percentage (19%) feel pressured to do this by their employers.

‘No parent should miss out on baby’s precious first days’

TUC general secretary, Paul Nowak, said: “It’s not right that so many dads can’t afford to take time off work when their babies are born.

“The arrival of a newborn is one of the most special moments in life. No parent should miss out on these precious first days.

“The UK’s parental leave and pay system needs an overhaul.

“Without better rights to well-paid leave, too many new parents will still miss out on spending time with their babies. And mums will continue to take on the bulk of caring.

“Ministers should give all dads better-paid paternity leave – and create a new right to well-paid parental leave just for dads, that doesn’t rely on mums giving up some of their maternity leave.”

Overhaul parental leave system

The TUC is calling on the Government to completely overhaul the current parental leave system and wants ministers to commit to these three points:

1) Increase statutory paternity pay

Statutory paternity pay needs to increase to at least the level of the real living wage (£11.95 London Living Wage, £9.50 National Living Wage), to make it feasible for dads/partners to take time out to care for their newborns.

2) Extend parental leave

Both parents need a standalone right to their own individual period of well-paid parental leave – which is not dependent on the other partner sacrificing some of their leave (as it is in the current shared parental leave system).

3) Give parental leave and pay rights to all from day one

Parental leave and pay rights should be accessible to all, regardless of employment status – including those who are self-employed, agency workers or on zero-hours contracts. Qualifying periods for parental leave and pay rights should be scrapped and they should be available from day one in a job.