More than a third of fathers are forced to use their annual leave instead of paternity leave in order to afford to spend time with their new babies, a survey for Mumsnet has found.
Experts say the statutory rate for paternity leave is too low, at just £138.18 a week for two weeks, half the earnings of someone on the minimum wage.
Justine Roberts, chief executive of Mumsnet, said: “It’s good to see the importance of fathers in babies’ lives being recognised but in practice, we're not yet getting basic paternity leave right. It ought to enable dads to spend time with their new babies, but because of the woefully low rate at which it’s paid, they’re forced to take annual leave or miss out altogether.”
More than one in six fathers take fewer than five days leave after the birth of their child. Of these, two thirds said it was because of financial considerations and a quarter were unable to secure the time off from their employer.
The Deputy Prime Minister announced yesterday that several major companies, including PWC and Deloitte, will offer enhanced paternity packages to all their employees who take the new Shared Parental Leave from April 2015. But just one in six employers currently top up paternity leave pay.
Nick Clegg called on employers to set an example by offering flexible working arrangements. He said: “It’s quite unfortunate that so many parents are unable to take time away from work to care for and support their young children. And it is bizarre that even in the 21st century, hundreds and thousands of hard working parents are having to abide by Edwardian rules when it comes to juggling their work and family lives.”