Hywel Williams – 2014 Parliamentary Question to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Hywel Williams on 2014-04-08.

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, if he will introduce financial support for individuals who have worked previously but do not qualify for statutory paternity leave and pay because they have recently started in their new position.

Jenny Willott

The Government has no plans to introduce financial support for individuals who do not qualify for statutory paternity leave and pay because they do not have the required length of service.

Paternity leave and pay was considered as part of a broader examination of family-related leave which led to the introduction of Shared Parental Leave and Pay through the Children and Families Act 2014.

It is important to maintain the right balance between the needs of employees to take leave and the needs of employers to have certainty when recruiting and hiring new staff. Paternity leave and pay can be taken immediately from the birth of a child to allow the father to care for the mother and the newborn. This means that unlike annual leave, where the exact dates of the absence can be agreed in advance, paternity leave dates are subject to change.

The 26 week service qualification period allows employers to plan effectively to cover an employee’s absence during the paternity leave period, which would not be possible if the employee had just been recruited.

Unlike paternity leave, maternity leave is a day one right to ensure the health and well-being of both mother and baby. In order to qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay, a mother must have 26 weeks qualifying service (the same requirements as for paternity pay). Those mothers who do not have the requisite service for statutory maternity pay may be entitled to Maternity Allowance. This is because the benefit system recognises pregnant women and new mothers have a specific need for protect their own health and safety, and the health of their child, by allowing them to take time off work. There is no equivalent paternity allowance or adoption allowance, as there are not equivalent health and safety reasons to do so.

We have committed to a review of the changes to employment law enacted by the Children and Families Act after 2018.