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09 Feb 2015

Labour Government Would Double Paid Paternity Leave, Says Miliband

Labour leader Ed Miliband has revealed that a possible Labour government would offer fathers twice the amount of paid paternity leave than they receive currently, BBC News reports.

Not only would the paid paternity period rise from two to four weeks, he noted, but statutory paternity pay would also be increased from around £138 per week to at least £260 per week – the equivalent of a 40-hour working week on minimum wage.

Current legislation, which has been in place since 2003, allows new fathers who meet certain criteria to take two week´s paid leave when their baby arrives. However, Miliband argues that these rights are “outdated” and that only 55% of fathers can actually afford to take their leave.

Supporting the “independent right” of fathers to spend a month with their new-borns, the new entitlement would also give children the best possible start in life, he added.

“At the same time as women are under pressure in their careers, more fathers want to play a hands-on role in childcare, particularly in those first crucial weeks of a child´s life,” Miliband has stated.

According to research carried out by the IPPR think tank, paternity leave take-up would be likely to rise from 55% to 70%, costing the Government up to £150 million per year.

Members of the opposition have argued that this would have to be funded by a reduction in tax credits paid to families with slightly older children; meanwhile, some business leaders – including the British Chambers of Commerce – have said that it would be a “a tax on business.”

The current Government´s proposal of shared parental leave – allowing a couple to share 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of statutory between them – is due to come into force this April. Although this is said to provide the ultimate flexibility for parents, Miliband feels that it will have limited appeal.

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