From April mothers will be allowed to share up to 50 weeks of their maternity leave and 37 weeks of their pay.
However, TUC analysis published shows that 40% of working dads with a child under the age of one would be ineligible because their partner is not in paid work. Mothers who are not employed or self employed do not have a right to share maternity leave or pay.
The TUC says that it welcomes SPL, but is concerned the scheme will have a limited impact because of the rules around eligibility and low statutory pay.
According to government projections, as few as 5,700 men are expected to apply for shared parental leave over the next 12 months. However, it estimates that shared parental leave would be open to around 200,000 more fathers each year if their rights to take it were not dependant on the mother being in work.
Half of new dads in the UK do not take their full two weeks’ statutory paternity leave – a rate that rises to three-quarters of fathers on the lowest incomes. The TUC says that without better rights to leave and pay, many men will continue to miss out on playing an active role in the first year of their child’s life.