A recent study by the TUC for 2011/12 revealed that only 1,650 out of 285,000 partners took advantage of entitlement to additional paternity leave of up to 26 weeks, paid at the statutory rate of £136.78 per week. This amounts to less than 1% of fathers.
The system allowing the father, husband or partner of a child’s mother to take additional paternity leave was only introduced in April 2011. Prior to that, fathers, husbands and partners were entitled only to either one or two weeks paid ordinary paternity leave. However, the TUC study shows that these two weeks of paternity leave are normally taken up by 90% of fathers. This is principally due to the fact that employers in the first two weeks of paternity leave more often than not top up the employee’s pay to the equivalent of full pay.
In contrast, taking additional paternity leave is not frequently done due to the fact that most families with new born babies are just unable to afford to live on the basic rate of paternity pay which is not supplemented by employers.
There is little doubt that the system of paternity leave in this country is outdated and rigid. The Department of Business has stated that a new system of shared parental leave should be in place from 2015. This will allow fathers to take more leave if they want to in the early days of a child’s life. As the General Secretary of the TUC, Frances O’Grady, says “Extending paternity pay from two to six weeks and paying a better statutory rate would make a massive difference as has been shown in other countries.” He goes on to say “ Men will be more able to get better involved with the caring of their children from the earliest stages and evidence shows this sort of involvement has significant benefits for children’s educational development in later life.”
To find out full details of paternity leave rights, pay and how to apply please visithttps://www.gov.uk/paternity-pay-leave/overview