Labour would double paternity leave and pay

Ed Miliband plans to improve paternity leave and pay for new fathers. Photo: Ben Cawthra/REX
Ed Miliband plans to improve paternity leave and pay for new fathers. Photo: Ben Cawthra/REX

A future Labour government would double statutory paternity leave and pay, under election plans announced today.

New fathers would have the right to take four weeks’ paternity leave, an increase from the current two weeks, and receive statutory paternity pay of £260 per week, (it is currently £138).

Parents of babies due on or after 5 April 2015 now qualify for new rights to shared parental leave and pay, where a mother can transfer her maternity leave and pay to her partner. Additional paternity leave and pay are being abolished.

Labour leader Ed Miliband will announce today: “Too many dads don’t take up their rights because they feel they have to go back to work so they can provide for their family. So today we are announcing plans to double paid paternity leave and ensure the money available is as good as the national minimum wage.”

The opposition said the move will be funded by a reduction in the amount of tax credits paid to working families as they take advantage of a planned increase in state-funded childcare from 15 to 25 hours per week.

Labour added that research from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) suggests that offering four weeks’ paid paternity leave will cost £150 million per year, assuming a take-up of 70%, up from the current 55%.

The IPPR’s Condition of Britain report originally outlined the plans last summer.

However, business groups have criticised Labour’s plans. “Expansions of parental leave may win votes, but come at a real cost to business,” said John Longworth, the director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce.

Too many dads don’t take up their rights because they feel they have to go back to work so they can provide for their family” – Ed Miliband

Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary, told the BBC that good employers will support Labour’s plans: “This is exactly what people used to say about maternity leave, that it was a big burden on businesses. But the reality is, what good businesses know, is that it is really important to keep women in the workplace once they have children and not let them drift off because they can’t manage work and family life. That’s increasingly the case for dads.”

The Liberal Democrats announced plans for six weeks’ paternity leave last year.

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