UK Dads Ripped Off On Paternity Leave

2 December 2010

UK Dads are getting a raw deal on paternity leave, the Fatherhood Institute has revealed, saying that the pay gap is greater and paternity leave less than other countries.

According to the Fairness in Families Index launched by the Institute this week, the UK ranks in the bottom four countries of the 21 in the index with regard to supporting equal parenting.

“UK families get a raw deal on paid paternity leave, time spent caring for children and men and women’s pay, the Fairness in Families Index reveals. Despite Coalition Government claims to make Britain the ‘most family-friendly country in Europe’, the Index proves the UK “still has a long way to go”, says Rob Williams, Chief Executive of the Fatherhood Institute.

In Sweden, which ranked highest on paternity pay, fathers receive 40 weeks full paternity pay, as compared to the two days full pay UK fathers receive. Of course, they are entitled to two weeks, but how many families can afford for the primary breadwinner to lose eight days pay around the same time a new member joins the family?

Williams feels that it is this distinction between men and women as primary breadwinners that poses part of the problem.

He said: "The fairness in families index gives a benchmark for where Britain stands in terms of how far policies allow families to share parenting and be more 'equal'.

Parents' choices are restricted by an outdated distinction between fathers as breadwinners and mothers as homemakers. There is clearly a long way to go if we are to become 'the most family-friendly country in Europe' as the coalition has pledged."

With all the financial restrains the government keep reminding us of, I'm really interested to see how they aim to make Britain the most family-friendly country in Europe.

When our daughter was born, I had unpaid maternity leave, and we would not have been able to survive on paternity pay alone – even for two weeks - my husband would have had to return to work as soon as she was born. As it turned out he began working for himself from home, and it's suited us very well, but this is not the case for everyone.

How has paternity pay – or lack thereof – affected you, and do you think we'll ever achieve an economy that allows anywhere near 40 weeks fully paid paternity leave, or even maternity leave, for that matter?

1970s Swedish Paternity Leave ad featuring weightlifter Hoa-Hoa Dahlgren - OnBeing @ Flickr
Paternity Leave - The US Army @ Flickr
Marco + Masi - Nico Cavallotto @ Flickr

TOPICS:   News and Recalls


  • andywedge
    I've always thought Dads get a raw deal. When my lad was born I had to save up my whole annual leave entitlement for that time and then take it. My boss was fine about it but some of the company directors believed that they were doing me a favour by letting me take annual leave / paternity leave. One even said 'I didn't even have paternity leave, you should return to work straight away'. 40 weeks is too much for both parents. However I think 10 weeks for one parent and 40 weeks for the other (which ever way the Mum/Dad opt for)is about right. Sadly, the UK is a bit backwards concerning children/babies compared to the rest of Europe. And sadder still, Dads are seen as the lesser parent. Try convincing my boy that Dad is not as important as Mum. He'll throw a right tantrum at the mere suggestion.
  • Luschka O.
    Good on you for taking leave anyway! I pity the family of the one who didn't see the need for it! I agree that fourty weeks is probably too much for both partners to be at home and I think the Norwegians have the right idea: Friends there told me they receive 52 weeks full pay per couple per child. They can split that any way they see fit. He took one month, she took eleven. On top of that the government gave them the equivalent of £600 to help set up for their new arrival. But on the flip side, they pay much higher taxes than we do. And yeah - my daughter would probably join your littl'en in a tantrum if I said her daddy was less important! I find it funny though - there have been a number of studies and 'findings' recently that tell us how important fathers are to children's future development etc, and yet nothing's really being done to improve the situation -to my knowledge, anyway.
  • Vicki
    I'm the primary earner in our family, and that means we have to survive on a fraction of our usual income for the length of my maternity leave - its shocking! You always assume that if you pay taxes, when you need a helping hand you'll get a bit of support, but no. Instead we've drained our savings! I'm returning to work soon and Daddy is giving up work to look after our little angel, so she will definitely be a daddys girl!
  • Jessica
    I do think 2 days paid paternity leave isn't enough, but just remember, more paternity leave equals more taxes. Really, you are paying for your own paternity leave though taxes, so maybe just save up for it rather than have it forced on you though higher taxes! Oh, and I have to say, I like the idea Luschka mentioned about Norway giving the amount of leave per couple and allowing it to be split. In some families, the woman is the career person and the man is the carer and families shouldn't be penalized because of this.
  • Emma K.
    As I am self-employed, I couldn't really afford to take any maternity leave at all. The daddy is employed and he took his 2 weeks, but I would have loved for him to have been able to take the maternity leave that I would have been entitled to, had I been in paid employment. It doesn't seem the fairest system at all.
  • Luschka
    There's a definite rise in fathers staying home to look after children now. I have two friends who have done so, in my rather small friends-who-are-parents-circle. What really surprised me is how we went from my management salary to maternity pay, and realised for the first time how much I actually earned, then went from maternity pay to nothing and missed the wealth of the maternity pay days! It surprised me how your view of 'enough' changes when you just don't have it anymore!
  • Luschka
    Yes, higher taxes would be a problem, but saving is soooo hard to do! I agree, too. Not all men are the primary earners in the family, and yes, families shouldn't be penalised for this!
  • Luschka
    Yeah. I can't imagine not having had maternity leave. My brain did nothing but float around in my head for a few months after K was born. I THINK under the Norwegian system you'd still have been eligible as a self employed person, because you'd still pay taxes. That definitely seems a better approach to me!

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