Theresa May is rumoured to be looking to new dads to secure a political legacy
New dads could be set for a huge paternity leave boost.
Prime Minister Theresa May is reportedly looking at a scheme that would increase paid paternity leave from two to 12 weeks.
She’s due to quit Downing Street next month but the new rules are rumoured to be part of her plan to push through landmark legislation before she leaves.
Under the proposals men would get four weeks of paternity leave paid at 90% of their salary. They would then have the option to take another 8 weeks paid at the statutory rate of £148.68.
Currently fathers are entitled to two weeks at the lower rate. They can then choose to take up Shared Parental Leave by splitting up to 50 weeks off with their partner. However that chunk of leave is only paid at the statutory rate making it unaffordable for many.
Uptake of Shared Parental Leave has been low. Estimates vary but it’s believed to be around 1-5% of eligible dads. Up to a third of new fathers can’t use Shared Parental Leave either because they haven’t worked for their employer long enough to qualify or because they are self-employed.
The cross-party Women and Equalities Committee in parliament recommended giving men 12 weeks of leave in a report last year. The committee, led by Tory Maria Miller, proposed making the three months of paternity leave ‘use it or lose it’.
It’s been suggested that the new rules could be brought in as a replacement for Shared Parental Leave. However Downing Street insists reports of a change in the law are only speculation at this stage. Ministers are thought to be considering the cost of implementing beefed up statutory paternity leave. Chancellor Philip Hammond is known to be opposed to any expensive policy announcements in the last few weeks’ of the current administration.