Closed petition Give fathers/second parents a right to 6 weeks' paid leave in baby's first year

Change parental leave and pay to give employed fathers/second parents two weeks' paternity leave, plus four weeks' non-transferable parental leave, paid at 90%, to be taken in the baby's first year. Introduce a Paternity Allowance with similar benefits for other fathers/second parents.

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The UK’s gender pay gap is above the EU average. Longer, better-paid leave for fathers should help support greater gender equality in the labour market: countries offering fathers more than six weeks of paid leave have smaller gender pay and labour force participation gaps. More than half of UK families struggle financially when fathers take paternity leave. Taking two weeks’ leave at the statutory rate costs an average earning father more than £1,000, and around 20% of fathers are ineligible.

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Government responded

This response was given on 29 January 2024

The Government has no plans to increase Paternity Leave and Pay. If parents wish to take longer leave they can use Shared Parental Leave to share up to 37 weeks of pay, and up to 50 weeks of leave.

Read the response in full

The Government is committed to supporting the participation and progression of parents in the labour market, ensuring it is fair and works for parents.

The UK has a generous system of parental leave and pay entitlements which include Maternity Leave and Pay, Paternity Leave and Pay, Shared Parental Leave and Pay and Adoption Leave and Pay. These entitlements are designed to support parents to take time away from work to care for their children, whilst retaining a strong attachment to the labour market enabling them to return to work when they can.

At the moment employed fathers and partners who meet eligibility requirements can take either one or to one or two consecutive paid weeks of Paternity Leave within eight weeks of the birth or adoption of their child. Paternity Leave is paid at the statutory rate of £172.48 in line with other statutory parental payments.

The Government has no plans to increase the duration of Paternity Leave or the rate of pay.
However, the Government has recently announced changes to make Paternity Leave and Pay more flexible for working families from April 2024.

These changes will:

• Allow fathers and partners to take their leave in non-consecutive blocks.  Currently, only one block of leave can be taken which can be either one or two weeks. Our changes will remove this barrier by enabling fathers to take two non-consecutive weeks of leave. 

• Allow fathers and partners to take their leave and pay at any point in the first year after the birth or adoption of their child. This gives partners more flexibility to take their Paternity Leave at a time that works for their family.  

• Shorten the notice period required for each period of leave. The new measure will require an employee to give only four weeks’ notice prior to each period of leave. This means that they can decide when to take their leave at shorter notice to accommodate the changing needs of their families. 

If qualifying fathers or partners wish to take a longer period of leave they have the option of taking Shared Parental Leave. Shared Parental Leave and Pay gives working families much more choice and flexibility about who cares for their child in the first year, and when. This entitlement allows parents to share up to 50 weeks leave and up to 37 weeks of pay between them. It is a flexible entitlement which can be taken in blocks separated by periods of work or taken all at once. Parents can also choose whether to take time off together or to stagger their leave and pay.

Statutory parental payments are designed to offer a degree of earnings replacement to enable parents to take leave and have never been intended to fully replace lost earnings. They represent a floor and not a ceiling, and employers are encouraged to go further if they can afford to do so - and many already do.

Statutory parental pay represents only a portion of the state-funded support available to new families in the first year of their child's life. The Government also has provisions in place such as tax credits, child benefit and Universal Credit, which provide support with the cost of raising children.

Department for Business & Trade