House of Commons reports on paternity proposals

The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee has reported on the position of fathers in the workplace, concluding that current employer paternity rights are not working to bring about “societal change”. As a result, the following recommendations have been suggested:

  • Any statement of particulars issued at the start of employment should list all parental benefits.
  • Fathers should have paid absences for antenatal appointments from the starting date of employment.
  • Fathers should qualify for two weeks' paid paternity leave from the starting date of employment.
  • Agency workers should qualify for paternity leave/pay.
  • Self-employed fathers should qualify for a state paternity allowance.
  • Paternity pay should be at the minimum rate of 90% of earnings.
  • Fathers should qualify for 12 weeks' paternal leave in their own right, paid at 90% of earnings for four weeks, and then a statutory rate for the remaining eight weeks (replacing shared parental leave).
  • All new jobs should be open to flexible working (ie hours/location discussed with line manager) by default, unless the employer can show a business case why not.
  • 'Paternity' should be added to the list of protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010

The report states that shared parental leave is “an offer on paper only” and that providing fathers with additional rights will have a “far wider impact on [their] caring and domestic responsibilities”.

It's worth noting that since the introduction of shared parental leave, fathers' freestanding rights are limited to two weeks' paternity leave paid at a statutory rate; shared parental leave is contingent on the mother's agreement.

The government is under no obligation to take any of the proposals forward, but these proposals seem a very sensible approach that should also help women - whom employers too often regard as having the principal caring role - in the workplace.

For further information, please see the full report: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmwomeq/358/35813.htm

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