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:
- 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.
- 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.”