Labour is considering offering new fathers a month of paternity leave, instead of two weeks, should it get into power at the next general election.
The government party says that fathers of newborns will get four weeks of paternity leave instead of just two, and be paid twice the current rate, in a bid to encourage fathers to spend more time with their young children.
Experts also say that the move could help fathers become better role models for their children in later life, thanks to creating stronger bonds with their newborns from the earliest stage.
The proposed plans come from the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank (IPPR), whose ‘Condition of Britain’ report includes 30 costed ideas that could help form the basis of Labour’s manifesto. It argues that the current rate of paternity leave is the main reason many dads choose to go back to work early.
Statutory Paternity Pay is currently £3.45 an hour, which some companies top up with income – known as ‘enhanced’ paternity pay. They can also receive ‘additional paternity leave‘, whereby the mother transfers some of her maternity leave over to her partner should she wish to return to work early.
However, it has been found that only 55 percent of men choose to take their full entitlement of paternity leave available to them by the government.
IPPR says the rate of pay should be increased to the national minimum wage of £6.31 an hour, to encourage more men to stay at home with their young ones. The move would also allow mothers more freedom of choice over returning to work after having the baby, and make this transition easier.
IPPR’s senior research fellow Kayte Lawton said:[quote]Fathers who take more than a few days off around the birth of their child are more likely to be actively involved in raising their child than those who do not.
“Their greater involvement in family life will also make it easier for mothers to return to work after taking maternity leave, which would help raise the family’s income and lessen the impact of motherhood on women’s careers.”[/quote]
Labour is currently studying the proposals, which would require £150 million in funding, to ensure the necessary costs can be met. If the proposal is passed it will become part of Labour’s manifesto for the next general election.
However, Conservative skills minister said the benefit would be too expensive to implement, and would “mean even more spending, more borrowing and more taxes”.
“Exactly what got us into a mess in the first place,” he remarked.