Nearly one in four new fathers did not qualify for statutory paid paternity leave in 2018.
The Trade Unions Congress (TUC) says that 23 per cent of new dads didn’t qualify because they were self-employed, had not been in their job long enough or were in insecure work.
In total, 580,000 fathers in work had a child under the age of one last year, with 133,000 not qualifying for the two weeks’ statutory paid paternity leave, according to latest figures.
In order to qualify, men must have been with their employer for six months 15 weeks prior to when the baby is due, but 42,000 men missed out because they had not met the threshold in 2018.
The TUC has urged the Government to overhaul the paternity leave system, calling for a paternity allowance similar to the maternity allowance that self-employed mothers are able to claim.
If employers don’t offer enhanced paternity pay, then some fathers may find it difficult to take time off, with the current statutory rate at £148.68.
They have also called for a simplified shared parental leave (SPL) system as only one per cent of eligible parents have taken it since its introduction in 2015. The TUC said that more incentives for parents to share leave, greater flexibility and higher rates of shared parental pay could help develop the system.
Frances O’Grady, General Secretary at the TUC, said: “Paternity leave needs an overhaul. The current system is too complicated, excludes too many new dads and is not an option for a lot of working families.
“Ministers should give dads longer, better-paid paternity leave. And all dads should be entitled to paid paternity leave from their first day in their job – regardless of what kind of contract they have.”
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