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One in four men who became dads in the last year didn’t qualify for paternity pay, according to new TUC analysis published today (Friday) ahead of Fathers’ Day this Sunday.

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%) – more than140,000 new fathers – did not qualify for the up to two weeks’ statutory paternity pay.

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 may be eligible for maternity allowance, dads who work for themselves don’t get a similar paternity allowance. Many of these dads may be ‘bogus self-employed’ – a tactic used by bad employers to deny staff basic rights at work.
  1. They’ve not been in the job long enough: Around 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.

Recently there has been a lot of interest in shared parental leave and how to get dads to share more leave with mums. The TUC fully supports this but the reality is that less than 8% of dads are taking shared parental leave and, until the system is radically changed, most dads will be relying on paternity pay in these crucial first weeks.

The TUC is concerned that so many new dads are missing out on paternity pay, and forfeit the chance to spend valuable time at home with their partners and babies because they can’t afford the time off work.

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). UK paternity, maternity and shared parental pay are low compared to other EU countries, says the TUC.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s so important for dads to be able to spend time at home with their families when they have a new baby.

“But tens of thousands of fathers are missing out on this special time because they don’t qualify for paid leave – or because they can’t afford to use their leave.

“We need a radical overhaul of family pay. The current system is too complicated, pays too little, and excludes too many workers. All dads should be entitled to paternity pay from day one in their job – regardless of what kind of contract they have.

“All working parents should join a union. Unionised workplaces offer better work-life balance arrangements – like homeworking or flexitime – and are more likely to offer better pay and leave plus more financial help with childcare.”

Editors note

The TUC believes the government should give new fathers:

  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, 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.

TUC research shows two in five dads miss out on shared parental leave:

- Working fathers with a child under one:

Average from Labour Force Survey, 2017/2018

Total number of fathers in paid work with a child under one


Fathers with a child under one who are self-employed


Employee fathers with a child under one with less than 6 months service in current job


Total number of fathers in paid work with a child under one who don‘t qualify for paternity pay


% fathers in paid work with a child under one who don‘t qualify for paternity pay


Source: Labour Force Survey, 2017/2018

- Statutory paternity pay is £145.18 a week, or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is less:

- The adult rate of the living wage is £7.83 an hour. Someone on that wage working a 40-hour week would earn £313.12.
- Men have to
be on payroll and earn at least £116 a week (gross) in an 8 week ‘relevant period’ to qualify for statutory paternity pay and leave, so fathers earning less than this will also miss out on pay and leave entitlements.

- The TUC’s Leave and pay for fathers and partners leaflet is available at
- For more information about unionised workplaces and work-life balance please visit
- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 49 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.

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