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What would dads like for Fathers’ Day this year? How about proper paternity pay

Published date
TUC analysis published ahead of Fathers’ Day reveals that one in four dads who had a child in the last 12 months didn’t qualify for statutory paternity pay
Father rides a skateboard with two children
Credit: RyanJLane/Getty

On Sunday, Dads around the UK will be opening their Fathers’ Day presents. Perhaps socks. Or slippers. Or the latest techy gadget.

But surely, one of the best presents would be for the government to help fathers spend more time with their families when a new baby is born, by making sure that all dads can access well-paid paternity pay.

Yet TUC analysis published today reveals that one in four dads who had a child in the last 12 months didn’t qualify for statutory paternity pay.

New dads

From April 2017 to March 2018 there were just under 620,000 working dads around the UK with a child under one. However, nearly a quarter of them (23%) – around 140,000 new fathers – did not qualify for the up to two weeks’ statutory pay.

Why do they miss out?

They missed out for two main reasons:

  1. They are self-employed
    This stopped just under 100,000 working dads getting any statutory paternity pay. Unlike self-employed mums who are eligible for a maternity allowance, dads who work for themselves don’t get a similar paternity allowance.
  2. They’ve not been in the job long enough
    Another 41,000 dads didn’t get paternity 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 pay.

Why does that matter?

It’s really important for dads to be able to spend time at home with their families when they have a new baby, to support their partners and bond with their children. Sharing caring responsibilities also helps mums go back to work and addresses issues like the gender pay gap.

So the TUC is concerned that so many new dads are missing out on this pay, and forfeit the chance to spend valuable time at home with their partners and babies because they cannot afford to.

Many low-paid fathers also struggle to take the time off because statutory paternity pay is just £145.18 a week. This is less than half what someone earning the living wage would earn over a 40-hour week (£313.12).

What about shared parental leave and pay?

The TUC fully supports sharing parental leave and pay, but our research found that two in five dads are excluded from shared parental leave and pay – and take up is only 8%. Until the system is improved, most parents will continue to rely on maternity and paternity pay entitlements. The government needs to make sure that those entitlements don't exclude large groups of parents due to employment status.

What does the TUC want the government to do?

The TUC would like to see a range of measures to improve things for new dads, including:

  1. A right to statutory paternity pay and shared parental pay for all workers from day one in the job, not just employees
    Just as we want to see all mums entitled to statutory maternity pay from day one.
  2. Increased paternity pay
    The TUC wants the government to increase statutory paternity pay (as well as maternity pay and shared parental pay) to at least living wage levels (£7.83 an hour).
  3. A paternity allowance for dads who are not eligible for statutory paternity pay
    This would be similar to the maternity allowance some self-employed mothers can claim.
  4. A shared parental leave and pay system that works
    The TUC welcomes the government’s review of shared parental leave. If the government is serious about supporting more dads to take a greater role in childcare then a simpler system, greater flexibility, higher rates of shared parental pay and greater incentives for parents to share parental leave are vital.

I’d also advise all working parents to join a union. Unionised workplaces have better work-life balance practices – like homeworking or flexitime – and are more likely to offer financial help with childcare.

And that would be a Fathers’ Day present the whole family could enjoy.

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