HR · 19 June 2017

Self-employment discounts one fifth of working dads from paid paternity leave

Self-employment could mean new fathers miss out on childcare
Self-employment could mean new fathers miss out on childcare

With Fathers’ Day falling on 18 June this year, new research from the TUC workers’ union has found that over one in five new fathers don’t qualify for paid paternity leave because they’re self-employed.

TUC analysis revealed that 22 per cent of the 600,000 working fathers in Britain failed to qualify for statutory paid paternity pay in the last 12 months, with the main reason being that they were self-employed.

In total, around 99,000 working fathers had their statutory paid paternity pay affected by self-employment, whereas approximately 32,000 didn’t receive paid paternity leave because they hadn’t been working for their companies for long enough.

According to the TUC, the law requires UK employees to have at least six months’ service with their current employer by the 15th week before their baby is due to qualify for paid paternity leave.

In a statement, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady called on the government to introduce a paternity allowance for fathers who aren’t eligible for statutory paternity pay, which would be similar to the maternity allowance which self-employed mothers, and mothers who haven’t been with their employers long enough, can claim.

O’Grady added: “When fathers share caring responsibilities it helps strengthen relationships, improve child well-being and makes it easier for mothers to continue their careers. We’d like to see all dads being given a right to longer, better-paid leave when a child is born.

“Paid paternity leave and shared parental leave have been important steps forward, but many families are missing out on these benefits – or simply can’t afford to use them. I would urge all parents and parents-to-be to join a union to make sure their interests are represented and their voices heard at work.”

With the statutory paternity pay rate currently set at £139.58 per week – around half of someone earning the minimum wage would earn over a 35-hour week – many fathers at the lower end of the income scale struggle to take time off to raise their children.

In contrast, fathers in higher-paid jobs that are more professional tend to benefit more from their employer when seeking fully-paid paternity leave.

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Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

Work and Wellbeing