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Quarter of new dads miss out on paternity leave and pay

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

One in four men who became fathers in 2016 didn’t qualify for paternity leave or pay, analysis reveals.

There were around 625,000 working dads in the UK with a child under the age of one last year. But a quarter of these fathers – more than 157,000 – didn’t qualify for the up to two weeks’ statutory paternity leave and pay.

The main reason was because they were self-employed, affecting nearly 113,000 working dads. Unlike self-employed mums who are eligible for a maternity allowance, dads who work for themselves don’t receive a similar paternity allowance.

The TUC analysis also found that another 44,000 dads didn’t get paid paternity leave or pay because they hadn’t been with their employer long enough. Under current law, employees must have at least six months’ service with their employer by the 15th week before the baby is due in order to quality for paternity leave.

As such the TUC is concerned that many dads are missing out on the chance to spend valuable time at home with their partners and babies because they can’t afford to. The current statutory paternity pay is £140.98 a week which is less than half what someone earning the minimum wage would earn over a 40-hour week (£300).

TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “It’s really important for dads to be able to spend time at home with their families when they have a new baby.

“But too many fathers are missing out because they don’t qualify or because they can’t afford to use their leave.

“We’d like to see all dads being given a right to longer, better-paid leave when a child is born. And for this to be a day one right.

“When parents share caring responsibilities it helps strengthen relationships – and makes it easier for mothers to continue their careers.”

The TUC is calling on the government to offer the following rights to new dads:

  1. Statutory paternity leave for all workers from day one in the job, in the same way that maternity leave is a day one right.
  2. Increased paternity pay to at least minimum wage levels.
  3. A paternity allowance for dads who are not eligible for statutory paternity pay. This would be similar to the maternity allowance which self-employed mothers and mothers who haven’t been with their employers long enough can claim.
  4. Dedicated leave for dads.The TUC wants to see the government introduce an additional month of well-paid parental leave and reserve it for fathers only to use.