MPs demand parental leave reform
March 28, 2017 1 comment
Forty-four MPs have demanded that the government do more to increase take-up of shared parental leave.
This policy allows couples to share a year’s worth of leave after they have a child. It was designed to reduce the impact of parenthood on women’s careers. However since the scheme was introduced in 2015, very few people have used it. In the first quarter of last year just four per cent of couples eligible for such leave took it, figures from HM Revenue and Customs have shown.
In a letter to Equalities Secretary Justine Greening this week, MPs from several parties said they were “extremely concerned” by the low take-up of shared parental leave. They suggested that this was because a “gendered working culture … means that many men are worried that taking leave will be viewed negatively by their employer and limit their career”.
The MPs claimed that this also means mothers still assume a “disproportionate responsibility for the care of children”. They maintained that as long as this is the case “the gender pay gap will persist”.
The government should introduce a non-transferable three month leave period for fathers and second parents which should be paid at the same rate as maternity leave, the MPs suggested. They also wanted the government to equalise payments for the first four weeks of both maternity and paternity leave. These would represent “a significant step forwards both in practical terms and in shifting cultural attitudes” they insisted.
The letter was organised by Labour MP for Tottenham David Lammy, who is chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fatherhood. He said it was “blindingly obvious that we won’t see progress on gender equality [or] active fatherhood until we have effective policies on shared parental leave in place”.
Conservative MP Maria Miller, chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, signed the letter as did fellow Tory Flick Drummond, the MP for Portsmouth South. They were joined by Labour MP Chuka Umunna and Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas, among others.
Photo of David Lammy MP courtesy of Policy Exchange via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.
March 28, 2017