According to a study by the TUC for the year 2011/2012, less than 1% of fathers take advantage of additional paternity leave up to a total of 26 weeks.
The study found that just 1,650 out of 285,000 men took the extra paternity leave.
The additional paternity leave is paid at the statutory rate of £136 per week which is, in all likelihood, why many fathers do not take advantage of the additional leave.
The department for business is introducing a new scheme of shared parental leave from 2015. Currently, new fathers are entitled, and will continue to be entitled, to 2 weeks of ordinary paternity leave. They are entitled to claim up to 26 weeks of additional paternity leave in their child’s first year if the mother returns to work before taking her full maternity leave entitlement.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady commented “poor levels of financial support are preventing new dads from taking extra time off, and are particularly affecting low-paid fathers who simply cannot afford to take leave. Extending paternity pay from 2-6 weeks and paying a better statutory rate would make a massive difference, as has been shown in other countries.”
The first two weeks of paternity leave are taken by 9 out of 10 fathers but the difference is that many employers typically choose to award this 14 day period at full pay because it is a much shorter, sharper period of absence.
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills commented, “The current system for parental leave is old-fashioned and too rigid. This is why we are introducing a system of shared parental leave from April 2015. Men will be more able to get better involved with the caring of their children from the earliest stages, and evidence shows this sort of involvement has significant benefits for children’s educational and emotional development in later life.”