Paternity Leave – what’s in the pipeline from the government?

News on 14 August 2019

Paternity Leave

When Shared Parental Leave came into force in 2015, even the more experienced Employment Lawyers and HR experts rolled their eyes, scratched their heads and looked a little perplexed.

It’s still pretty complicated stuff.

And it really shouldn’t be. Not only is it complicated to administer, but the take up is only about 1% of those eligible.

So now we are faced with a proposal for new Paternity Leave legislation.

Here at PitStop HQ we are hoping for some less complicated regulations, that make it easy to understand for employees and for businesses alike.

What is the current Paternity Leave entitlement?

Essentially, eligible employees who are having a baby, adopting a child or having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement can have one or two weeks’ consecutive leave after the birth (or adoption) of the child.

What about Paternity Pay?

The current rate at which the employer must pay Statutory Paternity Pay is £148.68 a week or 90% of the average weekly earnings (so, in line with Maternity Pay).

What is the proposal?

Essentially this is Theresa May’s last ditch attempt at leaving a legacy (that isn’t Brexit related). She’s attempting to tackle the gender pay gap with increased paternity leave.

The outline proposal is that the first four weeks of paternity leave would be paid at 90% of the employee’s normal salary. After that there would be 8 weeks of unpaid paternity leave.

The reality is that when leave is unpaid, take up is really low. (We know this because of the low uptake of unpaid Shared Parental Leave and unpaid Parental Leave).

The reality is that most households make their leave and childcare arrangements around decisions of affordability. Most people will save up annual leave and use that instead or as well as Paternity and Parental Leave.

Only time will tell whether additional Paternity Leave will have a positive impact on the gender pay gap.