New dads would get four weeks’ paternity leave under Labour – and double the pay

But will it harm business?

Ed Miliband has announced that a Labour government would double both the length and pay of paternity leave.

The Labour leader said he would give new fathers four weeks’ statutory paternity leave and increase pay from £120 a week to £260 a week.

Miliband plans to pay for the £150m change with money raised from a drop in the tax credits bill.

While fathers currently get two weeks of paternity leave, a new scheme created by the Lib Dems and implemented by the coalition will mean that from April, parents can share their leave when a baby arrives.

Up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay can be shared between parents, if agreed more than eight weeks in advance by the employer.

Because of financial pressures, currently only 55% of fathers take the full two weeks off.

Think tank IPPR expects that Labour’s plans would increase take-up to 70%.

“At the same time as women are under pressure in their careers, more fathers want to play a hands-on role in childcare, particularly in those first crucial weeks of a child’s life,” Miliband will say in a speech later today.

“But the money isn’t great and too many dads don’t take up their rights because they feel they have to go back so they can provide for their family.”

Bad news for business?

However, while the plans sound like they’re finally levelling the playing field for men, and don’t put any of the costs directly on businesses, there will be financial implications for employers.

John Longworth, the director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The father’s month proposal amounts to a tax on business.

“Although well-meaning, proposals such as this create very real costs for businesses, which can in turn lead to reduced productivity, reduced growth and fewer jobs.”

However, Miliband is set to say the modern family needs help from a flexible government.

“Parents work long and stressful hours, at different times of the day, and it is increasingly tough to balance this with giving our kids the best start in life they can get.

“At the same time as women are under pressure in their careers, more fathers want to play a hands-on role in childcare particularly in those first crucial weeks of a child’s life but are frustrated by outdated laws and entitlements.”

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Readers' comments (4)

  • What a load of rubbish !!, would it not be better to invest the £150 million in the NHS, or something worth while, my father like everyone's work all day every day, and his four children all grew up fine with my mother at the helm, that's what people do when they have a family.Of course it will cost and affect business, it's hard enough as it is, what happens when father's lose their jobs because of such a stupid idea. Back to the drawing board Milliband!

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  • @Derek Stutchbury - That is a very sexist and outdated view. What about fathers who want to look after their children? What about couples where the woman earns more than the man? What about families who cannot afford the luxury of one parent staying at home because they both need to work full time to earn a living wage?

    Labour are absolutely right to equalise parental leave so that the choice is with the parents as to who takes time off work, rather than leaving it to intellectually stunted gender stereotypes from the 70's.

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  • Anonymous

    There needs to be some thought for small businesses. I find it hard enough to recruit permanent staff, let alone trying to get anyone interested in filling a post short-term.

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  • Thank you Murray for your comments, shame you don't understand what is being said, this is not about gender, it's about reality, Labour are hanging on to trying to please a small number of which ever sex to gain votes,by saying the govenrment will pay the bill, may we ask whose money they are spending it is the peoples money not theirs, There is a lot of other thing we need to spend such a sum on. .Regarding" intellectually stunted gender stereotypes from the 70's", get real, and fight for something worth while.

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