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Britain's dads deserve a better deal: make your voice heard

Every Father’s Day, families across the country celebrate the dads who make up around 50% of Britain’s parents, and our social media feeds fill up with father-focused media articles and feel-good messages from retailers, employers and other organisations. What usually happens next is that fathers and fatherhood fade into the background for the remaining 364 days of the year. 

We work tirelessly all year-round to change that. And this year, the prospect of a new Government creates an important opportunity for us to demand a better deal for Britain’s dads – with your help.


 

Setting out the need for change

Our Manifesto for Supporting Paternal Caregiving, published in November, set out ten key policy changes that could transform UK family life. At the heart of the proposals is reform to the statutory paternity leave and pay system – a vital first step towards men gaining the time they want and need with their babies, and reduced inequities in mothers’ and fathers’ earning and caregiving.


We and others have been pushing for 6 weeks’ well-paid leave for fathers in their babies’ first year, for the last 18 months.

 

Fathers like Anthony Friend, a musician, who says that in the early days of his son’s life, he was “90% in the room and 10% sorting out all my work commitments”.

 

Anthony wrote to his local MP, to object to the fact he’s ineligible to paternity leave, whereas self-employed mothers can claim a Maternity Allowance.

“I can’t simply put on an out of hours message – I’d lose future work and income, and if I take time away, no one will protect my work for me so that it’s there when I get back.” 

You can read his story in full here

 

A year ago our open letter to Secretary of State for Business & Trade and Minister for Women & Equalities, Kemi Badenoch, objecting to the Government’s failure to reform paternity and parental leave, was supported by more than 30 key signatories - including key women’s organisations such as the Fawcett Society, Pregnant Then Screwed, Maternity Action and the Women’s Budget Group.


Since then:

  • More than 14,000 people signed our 6 weeks for dads campaign petition

  • We appeared across BBC News on International Women’s Day

  • The First 1001 Days Coalition – which includes more than 200 member charities - included our policy ‘ask’ in its Manifesto for Babies

  • We’ve briefed politicians from the main parties, and key civil servants


 

What parents want

There’s no doubt that politicians need fathers’ and mothers’ votes. A March poll for the Families and Work Group found that:

  • 92% of parents in marginal constituencies said it’s important for fathers to take time off work to look after their baby in its first year

  • 88% said self-employed dads, currently ineligible, should get paternity leave

  • 65% said the current statutory offer is not enough


More than two-thirds (68%) of the survey respondents said they would be more likely to vote for a party that promised to introduce better leave and entitlements for new parents.


And a new poll for the Early Education & Childcare Coalition found that three-fifths (60%) of voters support extending statutory paternity and maternity leave to give parents more choice in how they care for their children in the early years, with just 12% were opposed.


 

What the Manifestos say

We and others have made sure the politicians are well aware of the problem. Disappointingly, neither of the two main parties’ Manifestos commit them to a truly progressive paternity offer at this point.


The Conservatives’ Manifesto says nothing on the subject.

 

Labour’s Manifesto confirms that the party would review the parental leave system within the first year of government, if elected.

 

The Liberal Democrats’ Manifesto is more expansive – saying that if elected, the party would:

  • Double Statutory Maternity and Shared Parental Pay to £350 a week

  • Introduce an extra use-it-or-lose-it month for fathers and partners, paid at 90% of earnings

  • Make all parental pay and leave day-one rights, and extend them to self-employed parents  


 

The campaign continues

We will continue to push MPs across the political spectrum to make 6 weeks’ well-paid leave the statutory minimum – whoever wins on July 4, and however long it takes to achieve this model, as a step towards a fully equitable system.


The more noise we can all make during the election period and beyond, the more likely it is that the new crop of MPs will take us seriously. That’s why we’re marking Father’s Day 2024 by publishing new resources, to help you have your say in our 6 weeks for dads campaign.


They include:

  • A chart summarising OECD data that shows the UK comes 40th out of 43 OECD and EU countries, for the paid leave it earmarks for fathers


  • Our new analysis showing that while the UK spends £3.1 billion a year on leave for new parents, just £59 million of this goes on paternity leave pay: less than 2% of the total. We've also calculated that the average statutory paternity pay a father receives per child represents less than 0.2% of what a typical dad might expect to pay in income tax during his working life






 

How you can help

Please take the time to read, share and discuss our resources with the people who are asking for your vote, over the coming weeks.

 

And to help us keep pushing for a better deal for dads, please join the Fatherhood Institute as a supporter.

 

What better way of marking Father’s Day 2024 as a day to remember?


 

 

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