One in four men who became fathers in 2016 didn’t qualify for paternity leave or pay and many others did not take their leave because of financial concerns, according to new TUC analysis.
In 2016 there were around 625,000 working dads around the UK with a child under one. However, the TUC says a quarter of them – more than 157,000 new fathers – did not qualify for the up to two weeks’ statutory paternity leave and statutory paternity pay.
The main reason is that they were self-employed – this affected nearly 113,000 working dads. Unlike self-employed mums who are eligible for a maternity allowance, dads who work for themselves don’t get a similar paternity allowance.
And another 44,000 dads didn’t get paid paternity leave or pay because they hadn’t been working for their employer for long enough. The law requires employees to have at least six months’ service with their current employer by the 15th week before the baby is due to qualify for paternity leave.
The TUC says many low-paid fathers struggle to take the time off because statutory paternity pay is £140.98 a week – less than half what someone earning the minimum wage would earn over a 40-hour week.
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 campaigning for a right to statutory paternity leave for all workers from day one in the job in the same way that maternity leave is a day one right; increased paternity pay – to at least minimum wage levels; a paternity allowance for dads who are not eligible for statutory paternity pay similar to the maternity allowance; and dedicated leave for dads – an additional month of well-paid parental leave for fathers only to use.