March 2, 2015

Plans could see paternity leave double

An increase in statutory paternity pay has also been promised by the party’s leader, so that £260 a week (equivalent to a 40-hour week on the national minimum wage) would be paid
to new fathers, which is an increase of £120 per week from the current rate.

While some business leaders, including representatives of the British Chambers of Commerce, have claimed that the £150m move is essentially a business “tax”, Labour has argued that the funding needed to implement the proposals will be secured through savings in tax credits.

John Allan, the national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “It’s important political parties understand the practical implications of policy changes.

“The reality is that for small businesses in particular, extending paternity leave from two to four weeks makes it much more likely that they will have to buy in replacement staff as they will struggle with absences.”

Since 2003, new fathers that qualify and take paternity leave have been entitled to two weeks’ pay, but Labour says only about 55 per cent of new fathers take that entire duration off work because their financial commitments force them to return.

Labour’s announcement comes as the coalition government prepares for a new system of shared parental leave, which comes into effect this April.

Under the new system, a couple can share 50 weeks of leave between them, as well as 37 weeks of statutory pay.

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