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A new report by the CIPD calls on employers and the Government to enhance statutory paternity pay and says Shared Parental Leave is not working.
The Government should enhance the statutory paternity pay to six weeks at or near the full rate of pay so that dads can share childcare more from the point of birth, according to a new report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development [CIPD].
Its report, Focus on working parents: Why parental leave and childcare provision policies need to be reformed is based on a survey of 2,000 senior decision-makers in the UK.
It finds 49% of employers have a paternity or partner leave policy, but it only provides the statutory minimum leave entitlement – up to two weeks – and around a third provide the statutory minimum paternity/partner pay of £156.66 a week. Women who qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay get six weeks at 90% of pay before they go onto the statutory £156.66 a week rate for the following 33 weeks. The low rates of pay for dads has been regularly shown to be a reason many dads don’t take paternity leave.
The CIPD says that, while 18% of employers surveyed offer between four and 13 weeks of enhanced maternity pay at or near the full rate of pay to women and 21% offer 26 weeks, only a small proportion provide three weeks’ leave (3%) for dads and partners and 9% provide four weeks’ leave. A further 13% provide between five and 28 weeks’ leave.
Almost half (46%) of employers said they would support extending statutory paternity leave and pay.
The report also shows that take-up of shared parental leave continues to be very low. Recent estimates suggest that just 2% of eligible couples made use of shared parental leave last year. The CIPD says shared parental leave “in its current form isn’t working”. It adds that a more effective way of starting to equalise parental leave and pay is to ring fence paid paternity/partner leave.
While it is calling for Government to enhance statutory paternity/partner pay, the CIPD says employers don’t need to wait for government change in this area, but can start to enhance their parental policies where they are able to do so.
The report also covers childcare costs. Over a third (34%) of employers said the introduction of 30 hours free childcare per week for all 3-4 year olds in England in 2017 had made a positive impact on the number of women returning to work. And over half (56%) of employers believe the participation rate of women with young children would improve further if the same level of free childcare support was extended to all children under three.
The CIPD says the Government should provide affordable childcare from the end of maternity leave to enable parents and often mothers to return to work more quickly if they choose to. It also repeated its call for the right to request flexible working to be a right from day one of employment and asked the Government to reconsider the stipulation that employees can only make a request every 12 months.