Parental leave – room for improvement

Fathers have just as much right to be involved in caring for their children as mothers, and it seems the government is finally starting to recognise this through its newly announced paternity leave measures. But do the changes go far enough?

From April 2010, under its new parental leave ‘sharing’ measures, men will be able to enjoy an equal amount of parental leave as women after the birth of their children. After the first six months of leave for the mother, fathers can then ‘takeover’ take six months’ leave, allowing the mother to return to work and continue earning. Either that or the mother can choose to stay off for the rest of the year.

This will hopefully allow more women to share the financial burden of childcare responsibilities and lessen the impact that having a family has on the gender gap in earnings. Such flexibility will significantly improve the ability of women to make freer choices regarding their career and when deciding if, or when, to start a family.

Not only will it allow men to become more involved in their child’s upbringing but it also reduces gender stereotypes about men and women’s roles, including, of course, within the workplace.

But although the measures encourage women back into work, they still do not provide fully equal parental leave during the first six months of the child’s life. Previous proposals announce by the government to extend maternity leave to 12 months and introduce paternity leave for the first 6 months have been shelved.

See also:
New paternity rights do not address take-up or gender pay gap

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