Number of dads taking paternity leave falls

Figures show that the number of dads taking paternity leave is falling – possibly due to more being in self employed or gig economy jobs.

working dads want more time with their families

Working dads, particularly younger dads, want to spend more time with their families

Just 31% of eligible new fathers used paternity leave last year, down by 1% on the previous year, according to research.

The research by EMW Law shows that the number of women taking maternity leave is rising while the percentage of eligible men taking paternity leave has now fallen for four years in a row having been 34% in 2014/15.

The growing gap between uptake of maternity leave and paternity leave may in part be due to the increasing number and percentage of men in forms of employment that lack the right to paternity pay, such as the ‘gig economy’ and other forms of self-employment, says EMW Law.

Data from the ONS shows that men make up 69% of gig economy workers. Men also make up a large majority of those in self-employment (74%). For those in self-employment there is no statutory paternity pay.

EMW Lww says the declining number of men taking paternity leave over recent years is in stark contrast to the number of women taking maternity leave, which has increased from 621,000 in 2014/15 to 654,000 in 2018/19.

Jon Taylor, Principal in our Employment team says: “This trend seems to suggest that the current policy of increasing the usage of paternity leave and have men take up a greater role in childcare is struggling. The rise of the gig economy has meant that for a lot of men, taking time off for the birth of a child has become an unaffordable luxury.”

“Taking time off unpaid is not an option for a large number of men, especially when the costs of providing for a newborn child are taken into account.”

“While the problem is particularly acute among gig economy workers and the self-employed, even those who are eligible for paternity pay still face a pay cut by taking time off.”

“Shared Parental Leave is a very well-meaning policy, but it has not yet made any significant inroads into the issue of men being unable to take paternity leave. In fact, the gap between men and women taking time off for the birth of a child is actually widening.”

The data is based on claims filed by businesses with HMRC to reclaim Statutory Paternity Pay.

Taylor adds: “Whilst some businesses may decide not to claim the cost of paternity pay from the Government (and therefore would not show up in the figures) it is hard to say whether that would make any material difference. However, going on the official figures, it is worrying that the number has not moved in the last six years despite all the encouragement for men to take more paternity leave. That combined with the relatively low take-up of shared parental leave calls into question whether “family friendly” policies are really working”

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) allows mothers to claim 90% of average weekly earnings for six weeks, followed by a weekly rate of £148.68 or 90% of average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for 33 weeks. Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) allows fathers to can claim up to two weeks of leave at a weekly rate of £148.68 or 90% of average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

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