Campaign to alert fathers to paternity rights

The government is to run a leaflet and poster campaign in order to raise awareness among working fathers of their paternity entitlements.

At the moment, fathers of new babies can claim two weeks’ paid paternity leave provided they have a minimum of 26 weeks’ employment with their current firm by the 15th week before the baby is due.

They can also take up to 13 weeks of unpaid paternity leave until the child is five years old.

However, new rules are due to come into effect in Aril 2011.

Under the new regulations, parents will have the option of dividing maternity leave between them.

Fathers will be granted the legal right to take up the final three months of paid maternity leave due the mother provided she returns to work.

They would be paid the statutory maternity pay of £123.06 a week for the three-month period.

They will also have the chance to take a further three months of unpaid leave, bringing the total amount of parental time-off for couples of newborn children to 12 months.

Announcing the campaign, Lord Young, the Employment Minister, said: “We know that rights for dads at work are valued by people and that businesses also see real benefits in offering them, but our research shows that there are still some dads out there that are not aware of what they are entitled to and therefore risk missing out.

“Our campaign is all about making sure dads know what they can do and to help them have more confidence as they weigh up what works best for them and their family. The key is to talk to their employer.”

Last year a survey carried out by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) revealed that nearly a half of working fathers did not ask for their current two weeks’ leave because they felt they could not afford the cut in income.

The two weeks entitle the father to a statutory pay of £123.06 a week, but the EHRC argued the case for increasing this to 90 per cent of the father’s pay.

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