Cut in maternity leave to give fathers more time off

The equality and human rights commission is recommending that maternity leave be cut to six months and new paid leave be given to fathers. What do you think, is it a runner?

9 comments ↓

#1 Steph Gray on 03.30.09 at 12:36 am

No, I don’t think so. Mothers need as much paid or legally-protected maternity leave as they can get. Nine months is barely enough.

What I think *might* help is to ensure that the rights are extended to parents on shorter or temporary contracts, without a year’s service; more robust rights around flexible working to ensure employers are forced to properly consider requests; to bring in an entitlement to unpaid career breaks for either parent; and longer periods of unpaid parental leave over the first 10 years of a child’s life.

Sounds awful to say it – and perhaps my experience was an easier one than some – but I’ve not felt particularly that I wanted more paid time off with my son over the first nine months. The issue is being able to put in place the mix of childcare we think is best over the next few years.

#2 Paula on 03.30.09 at 8:20 am

This is a terrible idea. I went back to work when my son was 7 months old and it was way too soon. He still was not sleeping through the night which led to me being less productive at work, and the thought of my partner staying at home to look after our son would have made him ill, just not his thing and thats fine because it is my thing (as a nursery nurse), it just makes nooooo sense at all. It sould be 9 months to a year and up to the couple to share it in what ever way works for them!!!!!

#3 Stuart Bruce on 03.30.09 at 8:35 am

I’m not sure about some of the detail proposed by EHRC, but the principle is absolutely right. The biggest issue with equality and equal pay isn’t a lack of legislation, but because we haven’t tackled the culture and created a more level playing field.

I’m passionate about improving equality, but have also spent most of my working life in small businesses, first as an employee and now as an owner. Most of the legislation Labour has introduced over the last 10 years has made it HARDER, not easier to be a good equal ops employer. Just increasing maternity leave, without any real thought about the practical ramifications, means that even people like me who want to do the right thing has think twice because you know the massive cost to the business (and on other staff) of maternity leave. If there was equality in parental leave you would no longer have that bad, but essential, thought at the back of your mind.

#4 Robert on 03.30.09 at 9:21 am

Funny old word in my days husbands worked wives stayed home brought up the kids, then went back to work to pay for the holidays and the good life, then New labour comes along and tells mothers you can have a year off and then work. now they want to reduce this to give Fathers time off, what next free condoms so you do not have kids.

#5 tim f on 03.30.09 at 11:17 am

Unless we’re going to do the very radical & very expensive thing and raise both to 12 months, it’d be better to give 6 months each with an additional 6 months to be split however individual families choose.

Ultimately this problem won’t go away without addressing equal pay.

#6 Gert on 03.30.09 at 2:30 pm

How about a Scandinavian-type system when the individuals can choose how they split parental leave.
What works for one couple may not for another.

Cutting maternity leave in order to increase paternity leave is really not helpful to single mothers, or indeed to couples where the father is in some bizarre job like the army, sport or Politics where they’re just not going to take six months off.

Perhaps even allowing some of that overall allowance to go to grandparent, same-sex partner, best mate, or whatever. Depending on the individual circumstances and without breaching an overall total.

Or allowing it to be taken any time within, say, the first five years of the child’s life. Again, it’s about being responsive to the individual needs of individuals.

#7 Dave Cole on 03.30.09 at 3:17 pm

It might be an idea to give parents (say) twelve months and allow them to use it between them as they see fit. I think that’s the set up in Sweden.

xD.

#8 Mo on 03.31.09 at 2:13 pm

The biggest factor is the pay, in all honesty.

As a public sector employee, my wife was on full pay for her maternity leave.

I, on the other hand, had two weeks of SPP which financially crippled us enough that even if I had the option of staying off longer, it wouldn’t be remotely viable. After all, having just had a new baby is pretty stressful on the bank balance.

#9 Caspar Aremi on 04.02.09 at 10:27 am

Absolutely agree with the people who say the couple themselves should be able to split it. They should get 12 months in total. If the wife wants to go back to work after 9 months and the husband wants 3 months off then that should be OK. If both want the first 6 months off then pay for childcare after that, they should be able to do so.

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