The PATERNITY PENALTY
Dads in the UK get the equivalent of fewer than three days paternity leave at full pay
NEW fathers in the UK have some of the worst paternity leave in the developed world.
Under current rules, dads receive up to two weeks’ leave at a rate pay of either £145.18 a week or
90% of weekly earnings whichever is lower.
That is the equivalent of 2.8 days (or 0.4 weeks) of full pay at the average wage.
Mums, on the other hand, are entitled to a maternity allowance of
39 weeks in total.
They get 90 per cent of their weekly earnings for the first six weeks, and the amount is restricted after that.
Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows that, for the 26 countries for which data is available, Portugal offers new dads the best deal. Fathers there can take up to five weeks off at the full rate of pay. Lithuania, where new dads can take four weeks of paternity leave at full pay, is second. The countries are ranked by fullrate equivalent pay. For example, fathers in Slovenia are allowed 2.9 weeks off work at 90% of their usual earnings - meaning their fullrate pay equivalent is in fact 2.6 weeks.
Spain is behind with 2.1 weeks, followed by Poland and Finland, at two weeks each respectively.
The data shows that the UK has the joint second-worst rate of paid paternity leave alongside the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy and Greece.
For UK fathers wanting to spend more time with their newborn, there is a scheme called Shared Parental Leave (SPL).
It first came into force in 2015, alowing eligible parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay.
But research conducted by law firm EMW suggests that only 8,700 couples took advantage of the scheme during 2016/2017.
EMW calculated that was 1% of eligible couples while the Department for Business said it was around 3% of those eligible.
A spokesperson for Working Families, a charity that promotes better work-life balance, said: “There is a clear appetite among fathers – particularly millennial fathers – to share care of their children.
“SPL is the best option for fathers that want to spend longer than two weeks with their child in its first year. But statutory maternity pay and shared parental pay are not equal.
“The government should consider equalising shared parental pay and with statutory maternity pay to prevent SPL being a second-class option and encourage more fathers to use it. “Working Families is calling on the government to introduce a properly paid period of standalone, use it or lose it leave for fathers that isn’t conditional on their partner’s employment status, and that can be taken any time during their baby’s first year.”
Experts say the government should introduce a “properly paid” period of paternity leave for dads
Shared parental leave lets mums and dads share up to 50 weeks off work to care for their baby