The government is being urged to overhaul shared parental leave after new research suggested just 1% of new parents used it last year
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) said the take-up was poor because the scheme’s low payment of £145 a week made it unaffordable for most fathers.
A new study indicated that only 9,200 new parents took up the shared leave in 2018 – just 1% of those eligible to it.
Fathers in insecure jobs such as agency work or those on zero-hours contracts are not eligible, as well as self-employed men and women, said the TUC.
“Shared parental leave needs overhauling. It’s not an affordable option for most working families,” said TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady.
“Without better rights to well-paid leave, many new parents will continue to miss out on spending time with their children, and mums will continue to take on the lion’s share of caring responsibilities.
The TUC recommended fathers should have their own special leave, available from the first day in a job, including those on zero-hours contracts or in self-employment.
“If ministers are serious about getting men more involved after their child is born, they should give all dads longer, better-paid paternity leave,” said O’Grady. “Dads need leave they can take in their own right. It shouldn’t rely on mums giving up some of their maternity leave.”