Quarter of dads missed out on paternity pay – are you one of them?

If you’re male and became a dad over the last 12 months, you may have been one of the one in four fathers who missed out on paternity pay[1].

According to figures from the TUC, between April 2017 and March 2018, more than 140,000 did not qualify for the up to two weeks’ statutory paternity pay, as a result of being either self-employed or too new to their job.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s so important for dads to be able to spend time at home with their families when they have a new baby. But tens of thousands of fathers are missing out on this special time because they don’t qualify for paid leave – or because they can’t afford to use their leave.”

The self-employed barrier

Mums who work for themselves may be eligible for maternity allowance but there isn’t an equivalent for dads.

Currently, if you’re a self-employed male in the UK, you have to save up to cover any paternity leave you may want to take. And while you have more flexibility with how long you have off with your little one, you have to be more aware of things like taking time off to attend scans and pre-natal appointments with your partner, as well as managing clients and personal workloads in advance of and during paternity leave.

However, if you’re self-employed and pay yourself through PAYE, and you’re paying Class 1 National Insurance contributions, you may still be entitled to paid paternity leave.

The ‘new to job’ challenge

The law currently demands that dads be employed for at least six months by the 15th week before the baby is due to qualify for paternity pay.

Frances O’Grady explained: “We need a radical overhaul of family pay. The current system is too complicated, pays too little, and excludes too many workers. All dads should be entitled to paternity pay from day one in their job – regardless of what kind of contract they have.”

Preparing for paternity leave

Whether you qualify for paid paternity leave or not, the thought of funding parental leave and a new baby can be a daunting one.

Research from Noddle recently revealed that a quarter of parents are having to fund parental leave on credit when they welcome a newborn, resulting in debts of £2,700.[2]

The good news is that once you find out you’re going to have a little bundle of joy, you’ll probably have about nine months to get your finances in order. Here are a few of our top tips to help you along the way:

Budget

It might seem pretty obvious, but having a budget for when baby comes is really important. You need to factor in how you and your partner’s incomes might change during parental leave, as well as any statutory leave and pay and benefits you may be entitled to. To find out more, click here.

Get advice from other parents

Anyone who’s had a baby before will be able to tell you what you really need to buy and what you don’t, as well as where to look to get the best deals. Friends and family who’ve had kids may also be able to give you pointers on things to look out for and factor into your budget, such as time off work for antenatal appointments.

Have a safety net

Even if you’ve planned everything down to the last penny, something unexpected might happen or things may just cost you more than you thought. That’s why it’s important to have a financial safety net. This might be some savings tucked away for a rainy day or it may be a credit card in your back pocket for when you need it. If you decide to go down the credit route, you should check your credit score, either by logging in or signing up to Noddle, to see how lenders may see you in advance of any application. Remember, our credit card and loans matchers, accessible through your Noddle account, can show you products you may be eligible for based on your score, reducing the likelihood of being rejected.

To learn more about how parents cope with new arrivals, read our blog.

[1] https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/1-4-new-dads-missed-out-paternity-pay-over-last-12-months-says-tuc

[2] Noddle commissioned Opinium Research to interview 1,004 UK parents online from 9 – 16 April 2018. Results are weighted to be representative of the UK population. Of those who used credit (25%), average debt by end of leave was £2,764