- Only 1% of new parents eligible to take shared parental leave are using it
- TUC says increasing paternity leave could help half a million dads spend more time with their new babies
Last year only 9,200 new parents took shared parental leave – just 1% of those eligible to do so.
The TUC believes take-up is low because the scheme is so low-paid (£145.18 per week) making it unaffordable for most fathers.
Large numbers of dads in insecure work like agency workers and those on zero-hours contracts are not eligible for it. And currently men and women who are self-employed don't get any shared leave whatsoever.
Dedicated leave for dads and second parents
Parents can only get SPL when the mum gives up part of her maternity leave. The TUC believes that dads and second parents should have their own special leave which should be available from day one in their jobs – including those who are self-employed, agency workers or on zero-hours contracts.
Statutory paternity pay and shared parental pay should be increased to at least minimum wage levels. And increasing the current statutory paternity leave period (two weeks) – and extending the leave to all fathers, including those who are self-employed, agency workers or on zero-hours contracts – could benefit almost 500,000 dads, says the TUC.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“Shared parental leave needs overhauling. It's not an affordable option for most working families.
"Without better rights to well-paid leave, many new parents will continue to miss out on spending time with their children. And mums will continue to take on the lion-share of caring responsibilities.
“If ministers are serious about getting men more involved after their child is born they should give all dads longer, better-paid paternity leave.
“Dads need leave they can take in their own right. It shouldn't rely on mums giving up some of their maternity leave.”