UK is the “scrooge of Europe” when it comes to decent parental pay

The UK ranks last in Europe when it comes to giving new parents well-paid leave following the birth of their child, according to a TUC analysis published this week

new born baby

The analysis says that in the UK new mothers get just six weeks of statutory maternity pay at 90 per cent of their wage. Across the Channel, the European average for well-paid leave for new mothers is 43 weeks (under the official European definition, ‘well-paid’ means someone getting at least two-thirds of their pre-maternity leave earnings, or a rate of pay greater than £840 (€1000) per month)

Mothers in Britain are also entitled to an additional 33 weeks pay but only at £136 per week – a rate which has fallen in real terms under this government. And in the UK only about one in four women receive extra occupational maternity pay from their employers

In total the UK offers up to 41 weeks of paid leave to new parents, but this is the fifth lowest in Europe…

As part of the Children & Families Bill, the government plans to introduce a system of shared parental leave from 2015 – but it will still be low-paid (£136 per week). Even on the government’s own estimates only between 2 – 8 per cent of new fathers will be able to afford to make use of it

As the Bill comes under scrutiny during its House of Lords Committee stage, the TUC is calling on Peers to support an amendment to be debated today establishing six weeks of better-paid leave for fathers

father and baby

Since Norway introduced and then extended a fathers’ quota in the 1990s, the proportion of men taking some leave increased twenty-fold (from 4 per cent to 89 per cent). Key to its success has been pay set at 80 to 100 per cent of a father’s ordinary wage

Commenting on the figures TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:  “Unfortunately when it comes to supporting parents looking after a new baby, the UK is the scrooge of Europe. Countries across Europe are incredibly diverse, especially in the challenges they face, yet all of them have found ways to offer better support for new parents. A modest way to start turning this around would be for the government to give new fathers six weeks of well-paid leave. Without a properly-paid system of shared parental leave, women will continue to be forced to put their careers on hold as they continue to be the primary carers in their child’s all-important first year”

Did your employer pay you over & above the minimum pay during your maternity leave?  I was lucky that I had savings which allowed me to take a year off after the birth of my twins – my husband took his 2 weeks statatory paid paternity leave (using his yearly bonus to supplement this salary) & he also was able to add on 2 weeks paid annual leave at the end of this time.  However we were lucky, many friends, collegues & their partners were not able to take such long maternity & paternity leave…Let us know your views below…



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