New fathers find it difficult to take extra paternity leave says TUC report


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The Independent Online

New fathers are finding it difficult to take the paternity leave available to them because of low statutory rates, a new report has suggested today.

Research conducted by the Trade Union Congress [TUC] has revealed that just 1 in 172 fathers are making use of the Additional Paternity Leave available to them following the birth of their child.

APL was introduced to create more flexibility with child care within working families. Yet only 0.6 per cent of the 285,000 dads eligible to take APL did so between 2011 and 2012. Under APL a father is able to take up to 26 weeks leave, 19 weeks of which are paid, when his partner has ended her maternity leave. This can be taken no earlier than 20 weeks after the birth of the baby.

However, statutory paternity pay is just £136 per week, and this is rarely subsidised by employers. The report argues this is a contributing factor to why fewer than one in three men spend longer than two weeks on paternity leave.

The TUC is now advocating that the government reconsider the three year one per cent cap they have placed on annual paternity pay increases. In a statement released today, they argued that that keeping statutory pay rates below inflation and a general refusal from employers to subside pay beyond the two week period is discouraging new fathers from staying at home after the birth.

Instead, they want paternity leave and pay from employers to be extended from two weeks to six weeks. Their statement added: "Paying it at 90 per cent of father/partners' average earnings could be introduced as an amendment to the forthcoming Children and Families Bill."

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said: "A good gift for fathers this Sunday would be for ministers to increase statutory paternity pay rates and for employers to top it up for longer, so that new dads can spend more time with their children.

"Poor levels of financial support are preventing new dads from taking extra time off and are particularly affecting low-paid fathers who simply cannot afford to take leave.

"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."