Just a third of eligible fathers take paternity leave – and inflation is making low pay level worse by the day
Only a third of eligible new fathers in the UK are taking paternity leave due to the low level of pay on offer – and inflation is making the deal worse by the day. Just 204,000 fathers took paternity leave in 2021/22, compared to 636,000 mothers who took maternity leave*.
The key driver of the low numbers of men taking paternity leave is the extremely low level of pay available under the scheme.
Statutory Paternity Pay in the UK is currently just £157 a week, an increase of only £20 since 2014. If paternity pay had merely kept up with inflation over that period, new fathers would now be entitled to £181 a week.
Given that men are still the main wage earners for the majority of families, seeing their pay cut to just £157 is not sustainable for many households. The average salary in the UK is currently £562 a week**.
"Fathers on paternity leave are getting a raw deal and with inflation rising sharply it’s getting worse all the time. Paternity pay is not increasing anywhere near fast enough to keep up with the spiralling cost of living."
The Government should review levels of paternity pay in light of inflation if it wants more fathers to play an active role in the early weeks of their children’s lives.
With inflation rising in the UK, couples are having to take into account the increased cost of starting a family. The current rate of paternity pay is a disincentive both to having children and to men contributing actively to raising them.
The number of people taking for both maternity and paternity leave has bounced back since the pandemic, with both now back on trend from pre-pandemic levels.
The number of men taking paternity leave has remained relatively flat since 2012/13 – aside from the drop during the pandemic. Between 2019-20 and 2020-21 paternity pay claimants dropped by 47,0000 from 208,000 to 161,000.
* Source: HMRC. Year end March 31 2022
** Source: ONS, June 2022