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TUC calls for overhaul of shared parental leave

  • Only 1% of new parents eligible to take shared parental leave are using it
  • TUC says increasing paternity leave could help half a million dads spend more time with their new babies

The TUC is today (Friday) calling for an overhaul of shared parental leave on the fourth anniversary of its introduction.

Last year only 9,200 new parents took shared parental leave – just 1% of those eligible to do so.

The TUC believes take-up is low because the scheme is so low-paid (£145.18 per week) making it unaffordable for most fathers.

Large numbers of dads in insecure work like agency workers and those on zero-hours contracts are not eligible for it. And currently men and women who are self-employed don't get any shared leave whatsoever.

Dedicated leave for dads and second parents

Parents can only get SPL when the mum gives up part of her maternity leave. The TUC believes that dads and second parents should have their own special leave which should be available from day one in their jobs – including those who are self-employed, agency workers or on zero-hours contracts.

Statutory paternity pay and shared parental pay should be increased to at least minimum wage levels. And increasing the current statutory paternity leave period (two weeks) – and extending the leave to all fathers, including those who are self-employed, agency workers or on zero-hours contracts – could benefit almost 500,000 dads, says the TUC.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Shared parental leave needs overhauling. It's not an affordable option for most working families.

"Without better rights to well-paid leave, many new parents will continue to miss out on spending time with their children. And mums will continue to take on the lion-share of caring responsibilities.

“If ministers are serious about getting men more involved after their child is born they should give all dads longer, better-paid paternity leave.

“Dads need leave they can take in their own right. It shouldn't rely on mums giving up some of their maternity leave.”

Editors note

- The University of Birmingham found that only 9,200 new parents (just over 1% of those entitled to take it) took SPL in 2017/2018:
- The government has previously estimated take-up of SPL would be between 2-8%:
- A recent report from the Women and Equalities Select Committee suggested that the government should consider increasing statutory paternity leave to 12 weeks:, para 10.
- Half a million dads could benefit from increased paternity leave: In 2017, there were 679,106 babies born. Of the births registered, 35,203 were sole registered (registered outside of a marriage or civil partnership, and not as part of a joint registration outside of a marriage of civil partnership). This means that 643,903 babies were born with a second registered parent. With an employment rate of 75% in 2017, this means that an estimated 482,927 fathers/second parents would have been in employment. This means that almost half a million fathers/second parents would benefit from increased parental leave for all fathers or second parents. (Figures from the Office for National Statistics)
- Shared Parental Leave: You and your partner may be able to get Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) if you’re having a baby or adopting a child. ShPP is paid at the rate of £145.18 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. You can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay between you. You need to share the pay and leave in the first year after your child is born or placed with your family. You can use SPL to take leave in blocks separated by periods of work or take it all in one go. You can also choose to be off work together or to stagger the leave and pay. For more information please visit
- The TUC’s Leave and pay for fathers and partners leaflet is available at
- 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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