Theresa May considers 12 weeks’ paid paternity policy

Theresa May could offer fathers 12 weeks’ paid paternity leave as one of her ’legacy’ policies before she leaves office as Prime Minister.

The plans, reported in several Sunday newspapers, are yet to be confirmed, but would be a dramatic increase on the current two weeks’ statutory allowance of £148 per week or 90% of usual pay, whichever is lower.

Extending parental leave for fathers was proposed in a report by the Women and Equalities Committee last year, which suggested the 12 weeks could be a “use it or lose it” allowance that would encourage more men to take longer periods of leave.

Shared parental leave, the coalition government’s flagship childcare policy, has so far seen very little take-up, with only 9,200 new parents taking it last year – just 1% of those who were eligible to do so.

However, Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake expressed concern about the impact of offering a longer period of leave on small businesses.

He told The Sun on Sunday: “Firms are under huge pressure whether it’s paying the national living wage or coping to keep up with crippling business rates.

“Small to medium-sized firms need time to adjust and the measures will need to be properly consulted on.”

Several employers already provide well above the statutory requirement to new fathers. Drinks giant Diageo, for example, offers the same six months fully paid to both men and women, and phone network 02 recently increased its paternity leave offer to 14 weeks.

Theresa May is keen to leave her stamp before she leaves number 10, announcing a number of final policies in her last weeks of office.

Earlier this month she announced she would invest in training for every new teacher in England to enable them to spot the early warning signs of mental illness.

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5 Responses to Theresa May considers 12 weeks’ paid paternity policy

  1. Avatar
    Tom 26 Jun 2019 at 6:58 am #

    As someone on Shared Parental Leave right now (6 months for my wife followed by 3 months for me) it was incredibly difficult to coordinate. My employer has roughly 10,000 staff and, whilst having written their SPL policy when it first came out, have never actually put it into practise. My HR team have been very helpful but the process is very confusing and we simply applied for single blocks each.
    My wife is a teacher and entitled to OMP for Maternity leave but her school attempted to withhold this as they “do not provide the same support for SPL,” a decision which nearly cost us over £3000 until her union got involved arguing she was taking maternity leave and curtailing and only I was taking SPL.
    As with everything the government guidelines were very grey and not clear cut.
    I would not change this time with my son, but considering no-one in my workplace has even heard of the system, I would encourage higher awareness and more support on it for both employers and employees.

    • Avatar
      Claire 26 Jun 2019 at 2:20 pm #

      Hi Tom, I am really interested in your comments. We are an HR support company working with small and medium sized businesses and their experiences are the same as yours as an employee.
      I am writing a blog about shared parental leave and wondered if I may use your comments to support my point.
      If you could let me now by reply on this article that would be cool.

      Many thanks

  2. Avatar
    Tim 26 Jun 2019 at 9:43 pm #

    I can back up Tom. SPL is so complicated both my and my wife’s companies basically had no idea what to do. There are a million conditions about how long you can take and when, especially if you don’t want to accidentally lose maternity or paternity.

    I’m not surprised nobody uses it. It isn’t because men don’t want paternity.

  3. Avatar
    Ben 2 Jul 2019 at 9:37 am #

    The money is not worth it. How are you supposed to live on £148.62 a week?

  4. Avatar
    David 19 Jul 2019 at 7:19 pm #

    spot on its not viable option for millions , could I afford 12 weeks off work at £148 a week ?

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