Paternity Leave: The Joke That’s Never Been Funny

standard May 28, 2015 1 response
Paternity Leave

We’re moving to Germany…. Well, not really but are in the middle of a saga right now. Presently, it revolves around the issue of paternity leave. Specifically the fact that, despite being told that his workplace are ‘flexible with parents’ Wes isn’t even allowed parternity leave. Not even by law.

In February this year (I was around 16 weeks gone) Wes got a new job. It was more money, more prospects and an altogether nicer idea than his previous place. With a baby on the way, it seemed only right that we try and better our position before he gets here so that it made things easier all round. However, under the present UK laws, we are being penalised for doing just that.

It turns out that if you want your fortnight off, earning your measly statutory minimum of £139.58 per week (as at 2015/2016 tax year), you must:

be an employee

have worked for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (known as the ‘qualifying week’)

give the correct notice¹

So Wes’ entitlement to leave AT ALL (paid or not) is gone because he hadn’t worked at this place for 6 months by the time I turned 25 weeks pregnant. Poof. Vanished. But had he stayed in his horrible previous job, the leave would be his for the taking. We would be able to spend the first two weeks as new parents together.


  • If we were in Norway, we would both get a whopping 14 weeks paid leave to spend with our baby, with a further 18 weeks to split between us on a full salary.
  • In Sweden, we would get 480 days’ leave to divide between us, with 390 of those days at around 80% of our salary.
  • Germany will give you both up to 14 months off at 65% of your salary.
  • Luxembourg allows two six month periods that can be taken by either parent, where you are paid €1,800 a month.
  • The Czech Republic offers up to four years(!) of parental leave, paid at between €600 and €400 a month, to “either or both” parents – although only one of them receives the benefit.
  • The rest of Europe offers mothers between 14 and 22 weeks of paid leave for us mothers and up to three months’ paid leave for new dads.

So when the rest of Europe are so helpful, why are we in the UK struggling to allow even a bare minimum of time off to new parents?

Could be worse. In places such as Thailand, Pakistan and Malaysia, paternity leave simply isn’t a thing.  In the United States you don’t get paid for your 12 weeks’ parental leave. Most African dads will get no leave whatsoever.

So, it’s not all bad. I get that. It’s just not how I’d planned it… and I really like things to go to plan.

Now, we both face the prospect of a very different introduction to our little boy. I am more upset for Wes than for me and for the new arrival.

Whilst I, as the mother, get to stay with the baby and bond with him and have all of the stories of his first ten weeks on this planet without the pesky distraction of work, he has to leave us each morning knowing he won’t get any of that. All because we tried to do what is best for our baby.

Sorry. The next one will be happier. I promise.

Sources

¹Gov.co.uk: Paternity Pay & Leave Eligibility

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1 response

  • The system is ridiculous. You try to improve the circumstances for your child and are basically penalised for that. Our maternity/paternity leave system is shocking. I’m tempted to move to Germany/Sweden/Luxemburg… basically any European country!

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