05 March, 2009

European Paternity Leave - UK

So I went and spoke to Human Resources to formally tell them about the "The issue" who seemed genuinely pleased and offered hearty congratulations (and hands to shake) - must be one of the more enjoyable aspects of their job I guess, and they passed me the company "Personal and Family leave" pack with all the information I will need (and a nice little form to fill out in the appendix)...

I had done a little research beforehand (which led me, roughly speaking, to conclude that it largely depends on the company themselves to decide how kind to be to the father-to-be)...it turns out that in my case it's going to be one week on full pay and one week on Government SPP (Statutory Paternity Pay) which is the princely sum of £117.18...all they actually have to offer me is the SPP and the time off, so the week off on full pay is a nice bonus...and it's certainly much better than how things were before December 1999, when fathers didn't have any right to expect time off at all, having (in many cases) to use holiday if they wished to be around their new family...

I must say though, the UK isn't exactly "leading the way" for equal rights for fathers, when you compare the legislation in the UK to certain other European countries it's actually quite shocking what counts as normal - the lucky Italians (for example) get 13 weeks off on 80% of their salary, but even that generous allocation pales into insignificance against the Germans and the Swedes, the Germans get 12 months on 67% pay and Swedish fathers can look forward to 16 months off on 80% of their salary! Crazy thoughts about being a benefit tourist are flashing through my mind, how hard can Swedish be, really? ;) Not all of Europe, however, is so forward in their thinking, believe it or not, our close neighbours the Irish get *absolutely nothing* and it's exactly the same in super affluent Switzerland...so a great example of EU consistency all round (and with us tangled up somewhere quite near the bottom)...

Anyway, on top of this I am also entitled to paid time off to take said child to any medical, optical, dental appointments (to be arranged for the beginning or end of the day if at all possible) and 13 weeks unpaid leave to be taken (optionally) before the child's 5th birthday for non-emergencies (child is poorly and mother is away sort of situations)...any emergencies featuring the family are on full pay (at the discretion of the company)...it all seems quite fair and reasonable...the thing that surprised me *greatly* was the bit of the form that *didn't* apply to me - adoption - staggeringly if I had just gone and picked up an abandoned baby (rather than fathering my own) I would now be entitled to 39 weeks leave on full pay! Which seems just a little ridiculous in comparison...

The little form I have to fill in made me raise my eyebrows a little too, admittedly it's got to deal with all sorts of situations, but when, after having filled in my name and department, deleted "as appropriate" everything except "Paternity" and got to the last two fields, I was a little stuck...Dates of leave requested "to" and "from" I had to scribble out and write "two weeks from the date the baby is born - expected early September", and "Reason for Request" had me struggling not to write "Because a Flange of Baboons is attacking the Tower of London - What REASON DO YOU THINK???!"...

Perhaps it's possible I've been watching a little too much "One Foot in the Grave"...

3 comments:

Absolute Beginner said...

Being a father maybe means you get automatic entry into the Grumpy Old Men Club? ;-)

Flyingpops said...

LOL!!! and I thought it was me with the hormones!!!!

¨°º©[ Fink ]©º°¨ said...

Hehe...bloody hell, I hope not! ;)