Statutory paternity leave and pay should "double to encourage take-up"

Institute for Public Policy Research said the low pay means only 55% of new dads use up their two weeks leave

New fathers should have their paternity leave and pay doubled, a think tank has said, to encourage them to spend more time with their newborns.

It’s an issue that will resonate with not only fathers’ rights charities, but those keen to adopt a slightly more Scandinavian model of parental leave.

In plans compiled by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), new dads would receive four weeks’ leave paid at the national minimum wage – rather than the two weeks’ leave currently afforded to them at the equivalent of £3.45 an hour for a 40-hour week.

The researchers said that the dramatic loss of pay was one of the key reasons that only 55 per cent of new dads took the full two weeks, receiving a standard £138.18 per week.

Should the changes be implemented, take-up for paternity leave would increase to around 70 per cent, IPPR said. The think tank also suggested that dads be entitled to four, not the current two, paid leave days for antenatal appointments.

It was revealed today that Ed Miliband is keen to adopt IPPR’s recommendations, expecting to deliver a report on Thursday supporting a “daddy leave month” at an annual cost of £150million to the treasury, according to The Sunday Times.

"[It] is often difficult for fathers because they have limited entitlements to paid leave, and so they often assume the role of breadwinner while their partner is on maternity leave,” senior research fellow, Kayte Lawton, said.

"Fathers who take more than a few days off around the birth of their child are more likely to be actively involved in raising their child than those who do not.

"Fathers' greater involvement in family life can make it easier for mothers to return to work after taking maternity leave, which helps to raise the family's income and lessen the impact of motherhood on women's careers."

A shared parental leave scheme is scheduled to come into force next year, which will allow new parents to mix and match 52 weeks of leave - for example if the mother transfers her allowance to her partner should she wish to return to work sooner.

However, it was revealed last month that a third of fathers would not even consider taking the new shared leave because the pay is too low, according to the National Childbirth Trust (NCT).