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The TUC has launched a new campaign calling on the Government to extend paternity pay to more workers, after discovering that a quarter of fathers may be missing out.
It found that of the 620,000 new working dads last year, more than 140,000 did not qualify for paternity pay, which provides up to two weeks’ paid time off.
This figure, it has said, is the result of two factors, either self-employment or because the individual hadn’t been with their employer for long enough.
The current rules regarding paternity pay give working dads the opportunity to claim up to two weeks’ paid leave if they are expecting a child, or adopting, including through a surrogacy arrangement – as long as they have at least six months’ service with their current employer by the 15th week before the baby is due.
During this time and while on leave, a father’s employment rights, including any pay rises and paid holiday time must be protected.
Unfortunately, the current regulations do not cover self-employed workers or freelancers, unlike self-employed mums, some of whom are eligible for a maternity allowance.
The TUC said that to address this inequality in the pay arrangements for men, all new and working dads should be given the same rights.
It is also calling on the Government to address statutory paternity pay, which is just £145.18 a week – less than half what a person working 40-hours a week would earn on the National Living Wage (£313.12). The TUC argues that paternity pay should at least meet the National Living Wage of £7.83 an hour.
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.”