A new report from the Centre for Progressive Policy (CPP), Pregnant Then Screwed and Women in Data, on the societal and economic impact of paternity leave has found that increasing paid paternity leave to six weeks could reduce the gender pay gap and help to equalise men and women’s participation in the labour market.
The UK has the least generous paternity leave entitlement in Europe. Fathers in the UK are currently entitled to two weeks’ statutory paternity leave, for which they receive £172 per week. This is equivalent to 44 percent of the national living wage. According to a survey conducted by YouGov, one in five fathers had no parental leave options available to them following the birth or adoption of their child.
Financial hardship was the reason cited by 43 percent of those fathers who were entitled to some leave but returned to work early, with 63 percent of all recent fathers surveyed stating that they were not mentally ready to return to work when they did.
The research found that less than 18 percent of prospective parents could afford to take six weeks of paternity leave at the current statutory rate of pay. However, 57 percent of prospective parents said they or their partner could afford to take six weeks of paternity leave if it was paid as statutory maternity pay for women at the same period, meaning at 90 percent of their income.
CPP and Pregnant then Screwed are calling on the government to increase the length of non-transferable paternity leave to a minimum of six weeks and to pay it at 90 percent of income in line with current statutory maternity pay, alongside enhancing existing maternity rights to reduce financial hardship, the gender employment gap, and the gender pay gap. They contend that this step would improve the overall wellbeing of families. When fathers are more involved in childcare, it reduces the burden on mothers and can lead to happier and healthier families.
What are the economic benefits of paternity leave?
Evidence suggests that increased paternity leave would also benefit the economy as a whole. When fathers take paternity leave, mothers are more likely to return to work sooner. This leads to higher labour force participation rates for women and increased economic output.
A study by the OECD found that countries with more generous paternity leave policies have smaller gender pay gaps. This is because fathers who take paternity leave are more likely to share childcare responsibilities with their partners. This allows mothers to spend more time in the workforce and earn higher wages. Research has also shown that increasing paternity leave could lead to higher GDP growth. It would also make the UK more competitive and help to attract and retain top talent since many other countries already offer more generous paternity leave.
If you have any questions about your rights as an employee to paid parental leave, feel free to speak to one of our solicitors who will be happy to assist you with the legal advice you need.
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