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Paternity leave - do you have to be the Prime Minister to afford it?

26 August 2010 #Employment


So David Cameron went to Cornwall hoping for a relaxing holiday and ended up dealing with the early arrival of his baby daughter.  Florence is the Cameron`s fourth child and so hopefully the sleepless nights and endless dirty nappies won`t come as too much of a shock.  However, the first few weeks of a new baby`s life are hectic and many fathers, including David Cameron, want to be there to help out.

New fathers with sufficient service are entitled to 2 weeks paternity leave but research shows that 45% of them do not take it. This is primarily because they can`t afford it.  Statutory Paternity Pay is just £124.88 a week, less than the minimum wage for an average 37 hour working week.  With the extra costs associated with a new baby, many fathers cannot afford to give up their full pay.   

Even if paternity leave is taken, 2 weeks is not long for a father to bond with his baby (although some may well be eager to go back to work for a break after this time!).  Fathers now take a much more hands on approach to parenthood than they did 30 years ago and will therefore welcome the new paternity rules scheduled to come  into force in 2011.  From April next year mothers will be able to transfer the second half of their year long maternity leave to their partner.  However, this will only be paid at the statutory rate for the first 3 months and unpaid for the rest.  The majority of families will not be able to afford this.

There are calls for paternity leave to be paid in full, and this is already the case in some european countries, but in these difficult economic times, businesses will have difficulty affording this.  Perhaps while David Cameron is driving around Cornwall trying to get Florence to sleep he can think about how a balance can be reached between the needs of fathers and employers.

Employmentbuddy has a range of documents on paternity and maternity leave, including policies and guidance notes.

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at employmentunit@clarkslegal.com by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.

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