TUC: One in five new fathers ineligible for paternity pay

Many families can't afford to have fathers take statutory parental leave


The TUC have published new research for Father’s Day which shows that twenty per cent of new fathers wouldn’t have qualified for paternity pay yesterday.

The analysis reveals that more than a fifth of fathers who’ve had a child in the past year did not qualify for two weeks’ statutory paternity pay. 131,000 working dads – out of the 600,000 new fathers – missed out.

99,000 working fathers – three quarters of the total – were denied paternity pay because they were self-employed, while over 32,000 were employees with less than six month’s service in their current job – disqualifying them from the statutory right.

The TUC analysis comes from the latest Labour Force Survey, from the last quarter of 2015.

As Jill Rutler noted, from April 2015 fathers have been able to split leave more equally between parents, in a move that is meant to promote greater gender equality. However, a year on from this policy change, less than one per cent of male employees are taking up shared leave.

For paternity pay, the law says that male employees must 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 believes many more fathers – on top of the 131,000 ineligible – do not take paternity leave because they can’t afford to, meaning they miss out on one of the most important times for parenthood.

The UK has some of the weakest statutory paternity rights in Western Europe, with some European countries offering equal – or even mandatory – paternity and maternity leave.

Many in higher-paid and in professional jobs get fully paid paternity leave from their employers. However, the TUC are concerned that many at the lower end of the income scale can’t afford to take the time off because statutory paternity pay is just £139.58 a week – 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 are calling for the government to introduce a ‘paternity allowance’ for fathers not eligible for statutory paternity pay – a scheme similar to maternity allowance which self-employed mothers and mothers who haven’t been with their employers long enough can claim.

Meanwhile the union confederation are highlighting the fact that mothers have the right to maternity leave from their first day in the day – while fathers have to wait six months – so are calling for paternity pay to be a right from day one.

Commenting on the analysis, 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.

O’Grady stressed the importance of stronger rights at work, on top of statutory entitlements:

‘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.

‘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.’

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2 Responses to “TUC: One in five new fathers ineligible for paternity pay”

  1. CR

    The EU’s TTIP would put all workers rights like this one up for judicial challenge by multinationals corporations at an undemocratic Tribunal and this would be outside the governements control !!!

    Another good reason to vote Leave

  2. David Lindsay

    Only 35 years ago, a single manual wage provided the wage-earner, his wife and their several children with a quality of life unimaginable even on two professional salaries today. This impoverishment has been so rapid and so extreme that most people, including almost all politicians and commentators, simply refuse to acknowledge that it has happened. But it has indeed happened. And it is still going on.

    If fathers matter, then they must face up to their responsibilities, with every assistance, including censure where necessary, from the wider society, including when it acts politically as the State. A legal presumption of equal parenting. Restoration of the tax allowance for fathers for so long as Child Benefit was being paid to mothers. Restoration of the requirement that providers of fertility treatment take account of the child’s need for a father. Repeal of the ludicrous provision for two women to be listed as a child’s parents on a birth certificate, although even that is excelled by the provision for two men to be so listed.

    And paternity leave available at any time until the child was 18 or left school, thereby reasserting paternal authority, and thus requiring paternal responsibility, at key points in childhood and adolescence. Of course a new baby needs her mother. But a 15-year-old might very well need her father, and that bit of paternity leave that he had been owed these last 15 years. That authority and responsibility require an economic basis such as only the State can ever guarantee, and such as only the State can very often deliver.

    That basis is high-wage, high-skilled, high-status employment. All aspects of public policy must take account of this urgent social and cultural need. Not least, that includes energy policy: the energy sources to be preferred by the State are those providing the high-wage, high-skilled, high-status jobs that secure the economic basis of paternal authority in the family and in the wider community. So, nuclear power. And coal, not dole.

    Moreover, paternal authority cannot be affirmed while fathers are torn away from their children and harvested in wars. Especially, though not exclusively, since those sent to war tend to come from working-class backgrounds, where starting to have children often still happens earlier than has lately become the norm. Think of those very young men whom we see going off or coming home, hugging and kissing their tiny children. You can believe in fatherhood, or you can support wars under certainly most and possibly all circumstances, the latter especially in practice today even if not necessarily in the past or in principle. You cannot do both.

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