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Europe Leaves UK Behind on Paternity Pay

Happy family together hand in hand on the beach at sunset.

A new piece of research from First4Lawyers has pointed out that Europe is leaving the UK behind on paternity pay. In the UK, new full-time working fathers only receive two working weeks (ten days) off in paternity leave. This is at 80% pay. Anything after that the level of pay drops, which puts pressure on parents to return to work.

First4Lawyers collected data from countries across the world to find out how much time fathers get with their newborns. They found that 28 countries are ahead of us. Most offered 100% paid leave rather than just 80%

Shared leave


Shared parental leave was first introduced in 2015 with the aim to make it more flexible. It gives new parents the right to split up to 52 weeks between them. Despite this, research shows that only 1% of fathers have taken this up.

Usually, the person on parental leave receives the first six weeks at 90% of their pay or £140.98 a week. Afterwards, they are put on statutory pay. As the pay for those on leave is so low, one parent is always pushed back into work to be able to support their family, which is usually the fathers.

How the UK compares

In Sweden, fathers receive a total of 18 weeks paid leave which makes them the best in the world for paternity leave. Mothers or fathers are entitled to stay at home with their newborns for 480 days and receive 80% of pay for. However, only 14% of Swedish families share parental leave. 86% of fathers go back in into work.

In Iceland, fathers receive 12 weeks paid at 80%. Slovenia has two weeks at 100% pay and then 10 weeks at 80%.

Andrew Cullwick, a spokesperson for First4Lawyers said:

“The UKs paternity pay should match the majority of Europe’s at 100 percent paid. This would give families the peace of mind that they can enjoy their time off with their newborn with no financial impact. In relation to paternity leave, two weeks at 80 percent paid is not enough. A small increase to four weeks at 100 percent paid would help new dads not only support the mothers but also give them the time needed to build a lasting bond with their child.”

First4Lawyers found that a total of 43 countries around the world don’t offer paternity leave. While the US doesn’t offer any guaranteed paternity leave, there are some companies who are trying to change that. Companies like Facebook, Twitter and Netflix offer guaranteed parental leave at 17 weeks for Facebook, 20 weeks for Twitter and up to a year at Netflix.

Dr Melanie Smart from Chichester Child Psychology had this to say: “Paternal attachment to baby (bonding) is often forgotten or sidelined with mums often taking the main caregiver role and therefore being seen as the primary attachment figure for a newborn. Yet Dads have a huge role to play in their family’s lives at this point and onwards.

“Dads have been found to be more positively challenging, encouraging risk-taking and problem-solving and fostering independence in children, which are core life skills. In turn, being a hands-on Dad also helps men reduce their stress response (cortisol), enhances nurturing hormones (oxytocin) and can, therefore, protect their mental health and well-being overall.”

Do you think more can be done on paternity pay? Why do you think fathers are less likely to take the shared parental leave? Please share your thoughts.

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