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Almost a quarter of new fathers are unable to claim Statutory Paternity Pay
Between April 2017 and March 2018, more than 140,000 new fathers were unable to claim any Statutory Paternity Pay, according to research recently published by the TUC. This equates to 23% of new fathers in this time period.
From these figures around 41,000 fathers were ineligible due to having an insufficient amount of service with their employer. In order to be eligible a father would need to have 6 months’ continuous service by the 15th week before the baby is due amongst other eligibility criteria relating to employment status, pay and relationship with the baby’s mother. The remainder, being 100,000 new fathers, were not eligible because they were self-employed.
However, this appears to only be the tip of the iceberg as just 2% of fathers took Shared Parental Leave in the last financial year, despite meeting all the qualifying criteria to do so. The TUC have recently claimed that the main factor behind such low uptake is due to fathers being unable to afford to take leave. Currently, the statutory rate of pay is just £145.18 a week, which is less than half what an individual would earn on the National Living Wage of £7.83 per hour during the equivalent period were they not to be on Paternity or Shared Parental Leave.
Another reason behind the low take up could be attributed to a general lack of awareness by fathers as to their right to take leave. A recent survey conducted by Monster.co.uk found that half of those polled were unaware of their right to take Shared Parental Leave. In addition, a quarter reported that they were only informed of their right to take such leave after asking their employers directly. Finally, 47% of HR professionals have admitted that they do not actively promote such leave, instead placing the onus on their staff to enquire as to any right to take leave.
So what is best practice? It’s important for businesses to strike a fair balance and create a positive work/life balance that works for all parties. By promoting Paternity Leave and Shared Parental Leave it can boost morale and can encourage fathers to take time off during the first few weeks of their child’s life.