One in four men who became fathers last year missed out on paternity pay because “they don’t qualify”, according to a new report.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) revealed the figures ahead of Father’s Day, noting that of the 620,000 new dads in the year to April 2018, 140,000 did not not qualify for the scheme.
Why did so many miss out on paternity pay?
As reported by The Mirror, under the current paternity pay rules, a working dad can claim up to two weeks’ leave if they’re expecting a child or adopting a baby.
However, a quarter of new dads didn’t qualify last year because they were either self employed or hadn’t been with their current employer for long enough.
Due to a loophole which doesn’t cover freelance or self-employed workers, over 100,000 working dads failed to qualify for any statutory paternity pay. This differs from maternity leave, as self employed mothers may be eligible for maternity pay.
In addition, around 41,000 dads didn’t qualify for paternity pay because they hadn’t been working for their employer for long enough.
The current 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.
What are your paternity rights?
Although a working dad can currently claim up to two weeks’ leave in the UK, the paid time off varies from one to 14 days, in addition to up to two antenatal appointments during the pregnancy.
During this time and while on leave, your employment rights, including any pay rises and accrued holiday remain protected.
Your right to return to work after the leave is also protected.
The statutory weekly rate of paternity pay is £145.18, or 90% of your average weekly earnings.
For more information on your paternity rights, visit the GOV.UK website.
Is shared parental leave a better option?
In recent years, due to the limitations of paternity leave, there has been a rise in interest in shared parental leave.
Shared parental leave allows parents to split their pay and time off after the birth of a child, but less than 8% of fathers are taking advantage of the scheme.
What the TUC say
The TUC has called on the government to address the issues with paternity pay and all new and working dads should be given more rights, as well as increasing the National Living Wage to give new fathers more breathing space while they are off work.
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.”