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Join our campaign for a better paternity offer for Britain's fathers
The UK's statutory paternity offer is the least generous in Europe, and one of the worst in the developed world. Britain's fathers - and their families - deserve better.

What we're calling for

We want all UK fathers to have the right to six weeks’ well-paid leave in their baby’s first year, as a minimum.

 

This would be made up of:

  • Two weeks’ paternity leave, to be taken after the birth

  • A ‘daddy month’ (four weeks) of non-transferable parental leave, to be taken at any point in the baby’s first year

 

These periods of leave would be paid at 90% of average weekly earnings, just as the first six weeks of maternity leave is now.

 

Both leaves should be a Day 1 right for employed fathers/second parents, and with a payment ‘cap’ for high earners.

 

There should be a Paternity Allowance for other fathers/second parents, similar to the Maternity Allowance currently available for mothers ineligible to maternity leave.

 

For all this to happen, we need the next Government to reform the statutory paternity and parental leave system.

Why change is needed

Fathers need a good amount of protected time to:

  • Bond with their babies

  • Support mothers’ birth recovery and breastfeeding

  • Become skilled and confident solo caregivers

 

The current UK statutory paternity offer excludes too many fathers – including those who are self-employed, aren’t classed as ‘employees’, or have changed employer within the previous ten months; and those who DO qualify, but can’t afford to take the leave.

 

Many fathers who DO take leave, take a financial hit their families can’t afford under the current system. And many mothers are left literally ‘holding the baby’ because the system pushes them to stay at home while their partners focus exclusively on breadwinning.

 

Our country is missing an opportunity to become more competitive by enhancing statutory support for fathers.

 

Six weeks for dads would help:

  • Many more fathers take leave

  • Many mothers return to work earlier

  • Reduce the gender pay gap

  • Reduce financial stress for families of young children

  • Lessen demand for paid-for early years education and childcare

Why six weeks?

We are proposing the 6 weeks model as a significant improvement on the current offer, which has barely changed since it was introduced in 2003.

 

This would offer a middle ground between the current offer and ‘best in class’ Scandinavian systems – which feature longer periods of parental leave, with some ringfenced for each parent and some able to be taken by either parent.

 

We see our proposal as a vital stepping stone towards such a system: for the first time, mothers and fathers would have access to an equal amount of well-paid leave – and fathers would have an individual right to a month of parental leave, which is key to transforming gendered roles and attitudes.

 

In future, we need a bigger review of maternity leave and pay, and the overall balance between ‘health and safety’ (maternity and paternity) and ‘caregiving’ (parental) leaves. But we think the 6 weeks model would be a great start, and would bring us closer to the ‘best in class’ systems.

What we're doing

We are speaking out against the current system, which is fundamentally unfair and inadequate

We are working to pull together and improve the evidence base for more and better leave for fathers. Read our 5-page response to Government in February 2024.

In 2023 we wrote an open letter, signed by more than 30 partner organisations, to Kemi Badenoch MP, Business and Trade Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities – calling for a rethink on the Government’s decision, five years after launching a consultation on parenting leave reform, not to improve the amount of leave and pay available to fathers. Since then, we received a response reiterating the Govt's position despite our successful 'six weeks for dads' parliamentary petition which attracted more than 14,000 signatures (surpassing the necessary 10,000 to trigger a Govt response)

We are lobbying the main political parties' key politicians and officials to introduce the 6 weeks for dads model after the 2024 General Election

We are listening to and sharing families' and employers' stories, to show why a better system is needed, and the benefits it would bring

We are compiling a list of employers offering a minimum of six weeks' well-paid leave to fathers - to show the Government that this is achievable, and to help parents find out which organisations are already choosing to invest in involved fatherhood

How you can help

Share your story

This is important because we need to put a human face on our campaign. Maybe you're a dad who wasn't able to take time off when your baby was born, or a mum whose partner couldn't. Perhaps you did take a good amount of leave, and can talk about how great that was. 

Whatever your story, please share it with us - and if you'd be willing to speak to the press, let us know. 

The more case studies we can gather, the more likely we are to gain valuable media coverage for the campaign.

Write to your MP

To help keep the pressure up, we want to encourage as many people as possible to contact their MPs, to argue the case for 6 weeks for dads. We've created a template letter you can download and edit to include your own reasons for supporting the campaign.

*you can find your MP's contact details by typing in your postcode here

 

Pledge your support

If you're from an organisation or project that works with fathers and want us to publicise your support for the campaign, email our Deputy Chief Exec and Head of Impact & Communications, Dr Jeremy Davies.

Make a noise

Post your story or thoughts on this issue on social media, using the hashtag #6weeksfordads and tagging us.

Donate

Help us deliver this important work by making a donation.

If you're an employer...

We want to know about your enhanced paternity and parental leave offers - especially if you're offering dads a minimum of six weeks' leave - and we will include you in our listing.

Email our Deputy Chief Exec and Head of Impact & Communications, Dr Jeremy Davies.

Campaign resources

Blogs

June 2023: What price time with dad? The UK's £1k-per-father paternity leave gap

June 2023: Workhorse fathers: why it's time we gave UK fathers a break

June 2023: How six weeks' leave for dads could bring billions to the UK economy

 

July 2023: Our call for a rethink on paternity and parental leave: sign + share our new parliamentary petition

November 2023: Our campaign for 6 weeks' well-paid leave for dads: update

January 2024: Next steps for our 6 weeks for dads campaign

February 2024: Shifting deckchairs on the Titanic*

*Includes link to our detailed response to the Government

March 2024: An insult to Britain's families: Spring 2024 tweaks to UK paternity leave

News articles

Metro: Why two weeks paternity leave will never be enough for today’s dads (June 2023)

BBC News: Paternity leave - Call for more help as fathers cannot afford time off (March 2024)

People Management: Call for more help as survey reveals many fathers cannot afford to take paternity leave (March 2024)

Presentations with partner organisations

Future Men: Agenda Dad with FI's Dr Jeremy Davies

Parent-Infant Foundation: Manifesto for Babies launch event with FI's Kathy Jones (starts at 21'00)

Videos

BBC News: New paternity leave rules in England, Scotland, and Wales with FI's Dr Jeremy Davies

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