UK Policy Briefings
Spring Budget 2021: Maternity, paternity and parental leave
Date Posted: Monday 1st March 2021
- UK maternity, paternity and parental leave policy design is based on an out-of-date model that does not encourage sharing of care between parents.
- Maternity leave provision is up to 52 weeks of leave, 39 of which can be paid (6 at 90% of earnings and 33 at statutory rate of £20 per week). Statutory paternity leave, on the other hand, comprises a 2-week entitlement paid at statutory rate of £151.20 per week.
- The shared parental leave policy introduced by the government in 2015 is based on a transfer of maternity leave to the second parent. Transfer of leave models are known to have very limited impact on fathers’ take up of parental leave. ‘Default policy option’ models that provide both partners with an equal share of leave, some of which is transferable, have been shown to be more effective at promoting more gender equal caring.
- Statutory maternity and paternity pay rates are, in relative terms, among the lowest in Europe.
- The low rate of replacement pay for paternity leave interacts with the gender pay gap, providing significant barriers to fathers using more leave.
- Coverage and eligibility for maternity and paternity leave is a key issue. 28% of women and men in employment do not have access to paid paternity or maternity leave due to either their employment status and/or length of service. With increasing casualisation of working arrangements, there are fears this number will rise and particularly impact some of the most vulnerable workers.
- In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, there is the potential for the disparity in leave entitlements between mothers and fathers to lead to discrimination against pregnant women when redundancy decisions are made.