Prime Minister Theresa May is considering offering fathers 12 weeks’ paid paternity leave as one of her ‘legacy’ policies before she departs her role as leader of the Government.
The plans, which are yet to be officially confirmed, would see a significant improvement in the rights of fathers who are currently allowed either two weeks’ statutory allowance of £148 per week or 90 per cent of their usual pay, whichever is lower.
A recent survey revealed that early one in four new fathers did not qualify for statutory paid paternity leave in 2018 due to not having been with their employer for six months 15 weeks prior to the due date.
The Government’s current childcare policy shared parental leave has so far seen a poor take-up to date with only 9,200 new parents taking it last year, a figure representing just one per cent of those who were eligible.
This has prompted them to consider the revamp which was first proposed in a report from the Women and Equalities Committee last year, with the idea that the 12 weeks leave would be used in a ‘use it or lose it’ fashion that would encourage men to take longer periods of leave.
Several employers have already implemented their own policies well above the current statutory requirements to new fathers. These include drinks giant Diageo, who offers the same six months fully paid to both men and women, and phone network 02 recently increased its paternity leave offer to 14 weeks.
The delays around any decision are due to the potential impact on small businesses. MP Kevin Hollinrake said: “Firms are under huge pressure whether it’s paying the national living wage or coping to keep up with crippling business rates.
“Small to medium-sized firms need time to adjust and the measures will need to be properly consulted on.”