Liberal Democrats Catering To UK Working Dads as They Pledge Better Paternity Rights

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Liberal Democrats Catering To UK Working Dads as They Pledge Better Paternity Rights
Photo Credits - Kelli McClintock via Unsplash

The Liberal Democrats have promised a “dad’s month” of paternity leave if they’re successful in next month’s general election. Read to discover what the party is pledging for UK working dads, the importance of paternity leave, and how this could help working mums.

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What Are the Liberal Democrats Promising?

The “dad’s month” will comprise four weeks of paternity leave, a two-week increase on the current entitlement, which UK working dads can take after the birth or adoption of a child. In addition, the Liberal Democrats are pledging to raise the parental pay rate. This presently stands at £184.03 per week or 90% of one’s average weekly wage (whichever is less).

Read: Paternity Leave Only Afforded by 1 in 7 Fathers, TUC Reveals

This is just one aspect of the Liberal Democrats’ plans to reform statutory parental entitlements. Further enhancements include extending the scope of paid parental leave so it applies from the commencement of employment. Under current legislation, employees are only eligible for this after 26 weeks. Moreover, parental pay for working mums will be increased from £184.03 to £350 per week.

In total, the Liberal Democrats plan to invest £2.4 billion in improving parental leave in the UK. According to the government’s Shared Parental Leave Evaluation published last year, only 5% of entitled UK working dads took advantage of their right to shared parental leave. While many campaign groups have moved for its abolition, Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, is pushing for its improvement.

“Millions of parents are being denied the choice to spend more time at home during that all-important first year with their child because the UK still lags behind other countries on shared parental leave,” he stated. He added that “the Liberal Democrats’ proposal would give new parents the choice and flexibility they need, backed up by a package of proper support.”

The Importance of Better Paternity Rights for UK Working Dads

According to a survey conducted by the Trades Union Congress, 53% of families end up struggling financially if new fathers choose to take their paternity leave entitlement. As such, 21% of UK working dads decide against taking any paternity leave, owing to the financial pressure that would result. And of those fathers who did take advantage, 18% still performed some work whilst on leave.

What’s more, research conducted by YouGov revealed that 29% of new parents suffered some form of mental health issue during the two years following the birth of their child. Of these, 45% received no treatment to help with the problem, and only 18% of those surveyed felt two weeks of statutory paternity leave was sufficient.

Multiple studies have highlighted the shortcomings of current paternity entitlements.
One report found that 29% of new parents suffered some form of mental health issue during the two years following the birth of their child. Of these, 45% received no treatment to help with the problem.
Elsewhere, a study revealed that only 63% of UK working dads felt mentally ready to return to work after taking their paternity leave entitlement.
Photo Credits – Yasmina H via Unsplash

But that’s not all. Data collected by Pregnant Then Screwed showed that only 63% of dads with jobs felt mentally ready to return to work after taking their paternity leave entitlement. The survey also indicated that new mums were 34% more likely to be physically ready to return to work if their partner also took parental leave.

Therefore, it seems clear that enhancing statutory paternity leave would have extensive financial and health benefits for new UK working dads. Such benefits would also be reflected in the workplace, with happier and healthier employees likely to boost productivity.

How Helping UK Working Dads Will Help UK Working Mums

An analysis of OECD data conducted by the Centre for Progressive Policy (“CPP”) demonstrates the positive impact which enhancing paternity leave and parental pay could have on the UK economy. According to the analysis, countries entitling fathers to at least six weeks of paternity leave have a 4% decrease in their gender pay gap. These countries also demonstrate a 3.7% smaller gender gap in workforce participation. CPP’s Fair Growth Report separately suggests that closing the gender gap in employment across the UK would increase economic output by around £23 billion.

Read: Motherhood Penalty: 1 in 5 are Paying It

CEO of Pregnant Then Screwed, Joeli Brearley, highlighted the positive effects which paternity leave can have on the entire family as well as UK working dads. Such benefits include improved performance by children at school and better physical health. She stated, “When fathers and partners take paternity leave, it supports the mother’s return to the labour market. We need a parental leave system that recognises and supports the crucial role dads play in families”. As such, it appears it may be time for legislators and employers alike to address shortfalls with paternity entitlements.

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