What happens to maternity leave if a mother dies . . .?

7 February 2011

Additional Paternity Leave – how one woman (with the Fatherhood Institute) made a difference …

When Julie Cappleman-Morgan had her first child in the early 1990s, her baby’s father had no right to paid leave

Julie was left on her own during the day to care for their daughter – which suited neither parent.  Later, as a mature student, as part of her Masters degree in Social Research Methodology, she undertook research into the experiences of expectant and new fathers to see if (like her partner) modern dads really did want to participate more equally in their children’s care and whether health service practices and parental leave policies helped or hindered them.

During this research (‘Daddy Cool: are health and parenting policies ‘freezing out’ new fathers’ – 2003) she discovered that if, sadly, the mother died, the baby’s father had no right to paid leave to care for their baby.  Her maternity leave died with her.

By that stage, adoptive parents could already choose which partner would take the ‘maternity leave’ and the shorter ‘paternity leave’, regardless of gender or biological need.  So Julie felt that the situation for a bereaved father was sex discrimination.   She was also amazed that it hadn’t been picked up by anyone before!

And so she contacted the Fatherhood Institute (then Fathers Direct) who helped bring her findings to the notice of government policy-makers.  Julie (and the FI) are delighted to note that the Additional Paternity Leave regulations have now finally addressed this inequality . . .If a new mother dies, her partner is not only entitled to his own Additional Paternity Leave after 26 weeks, but can take the mother’s earlier maternity leave, starting from Day One.

Read more about the new Additional Paternity Leave regulations  . . . .

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  • S says:

    What about if the mother hasnt died but is completely unable to care for the baby? My wife is currently in hospital after illness and may be left paraplegic – can i take maternity to raise our baby?

    • Fatherhood Institute says:

      Shaun you have raised a very important question.

      We contacted the Working Families helpline and this is what they said:

      UNDER THE CURRENT LAW (if the baby is DUE before 3 April)
      Father gets his own paternity leave (if he qualifies), 2-3 days’ ‘dependents’ leave’ (unpaid), and unpaid parental leave. That is 13 weeks but only 4 weeks can normally be taken in the first year AND he has to give notice for that! (Working Families ‘hope’ that he would be allowed to take the full 13 weeks – but there is no entitlement).

      UNDER THE NEW LAW (baby DUE on or after 3 April)
      Father gets the same as previously AND is entitled to Additional Paternity Leave – but that doesn’t kick in until 20 weeks! So he has to ‘bridge’ that gap himself!

      We are sorry to bring you such news at what must be a very difficult time for you. We will continue to lobby for a more equitable system of parental leave; do please keep in touch to let us know how things work out for you.

  • S says:

    what is the additional paternity at 20wks?

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