Fathers who are employees should be entitled to paid time-off to attend antenatal appointments as a day-one right, according to the report of an inquiry by the parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee. The government should consider whether the current entitlement to attend two appointments is sufficiently supportive for parents of multiple babies or where other factors mean additional appointments are required, the inquiry concludes.
It recommends that statutory paternity pay should be paid at 90% of the father’s pay (capped for higher earners) to ensure all fathers, regardless of income, can be at home around the time of their child’s birth. The government should also consider the costs and benefits of introducing a new policy of 12 weeks’ dedicated leave for fathers in the child’s first year to replace shared parental leave when this policy is reviewed (planned for this year).
To help drive this cultural change, the government should also look at amending the protected characteristics list in the Equality Act 2010 to include ‘paternity’.
Commenting on the proposals, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, said:
‘These are common sense proposals to help working families. Boosting paternity pay to 90% of earnings and extending paid time off to 14 weeks would mean hundreds of thousands more dads could afford to spend time with their new baby. And agency workers and self-employed dads should get the same rights too.’