Labour government would double length of paternity leave, says Ed Miliband

Fathers are currently only eligible for two weeks’ paternity leave at a statutory rate of £138.18 a week. But Miliband believes that new fathers should be given up to four weeks away from work, including a solid £260 per week.

“Parents who are better able to balance work and family life will be more productive, and help our economy,” he said in a speech today. 

It was also suggested that current entitlements are “outdated” and that by giving fathers an “independent right” to four weeks off, their children will have the “best start in life they can”. 

According to Miliband, “at the same time as women are under pressure in their careers, more fathers want to play a hands-on role in childcare, particularly in those first crucial weeks of a child’s life.

“Thanks to the last Labour government, fathers have two weeks’ paid paternity leave. Millions of families have benefited, with parents saying this has helped them support each other, share caring responsibilities and bond with their children.

“But the money isn’t great, and too many dads don’t take up their rights because they feel they have to go back to work so they can provide for their family. So today we are announcing plans to double paid paternity leave and ensure the money available is as good as the national minimum wage.”

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These plans were first discussed last year, which afforded them much criticism due to business leaders believing that the financial burden on SMEs may be too great.

Among them is the British Chambers of Commerce, who has said that it amounts to a “a tax on business”.

Director general John Longworth explained that “although well-meaning, proposals such as this create very real costs for businesses, which can in turn lead to reduced productivity, reduced growth and fewer jobs.

“Businesses have already had to absorb over half a dozen changes to parental leave in the last decade – with one, shared parental leave, not even fully in place yet. This constant instability raises costs for business and generates uncertainty when it comes to taking on new staff.”

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