As if having a baby isn’t enough, new mums often face discrimination in the workplace and some even find themselves having no job to return to.
According to a new report from MPs, working fathers who want to take a more equal share of childcare are being failed by workplace policies.
Despite good intentions, government efforts to support fathers in the workplace have not yet delivered, the report from MPs on the Women and Equalities Committee claims.
The report said the right to request flexible working had not created the necessary cultural change, while the Government had admitted its shared parental leave scheme will not meet its objective for most fathers.
And dads who are agency or casual workers are least likely to get flexible work that suits their childcare needs, mainly because they don’t have access to full employment rights.
Now MPs are urging for new rules to be put in place that would mean all jobs are advertised as flexible unless there is a solid reason for that not to happen.
The report set out a list of recommendations including setting statutory paternity pay at 90 per cent of a father’s wages, capped for higher earners, and a new policy of 12 weeks leave for a father in a child’s first year as an alternative to shared leave.
Chair of the committee, Maria Miller MP, said their recommendations were vital both for meeting the needs of families and for helping to tackle the gender pay gap.
“The evidence is clear, an increasing number of fathers want to take a more equal share of childcare when their children are young but current policies do not support them in doing so,” she said.
She cited “outdated assumptions” about men’s and women’s roles in relation to work and childcare as a barrier to change.
“There is a historical lack of support for men in this area, and negative cultural assumptions about gender roles persist.
“While the Government has taken positive steps forwards and has good intentions, workplace policies have not kept up with the social changes in people’s everyday lives.
“If we want a society where women and men have equality both at work and at home, I would strongly urge ministers to consider our findings.
“Effective policies around statutory paternity pay, parental leave and flexible working are all vital if we are to meet the needs of families and tackle the gender pay gap.”
The news comes as Canada recently announced plans introduce five weeks of paid paternity leave for new dads.
The move forms part of a wider attempt to tackle gender inequality in the workplace and encourage new mums back into work.
The idea is that the extended paternity leave could offer new parents a greater incentive to share child-raising responsibilities so that mothers can more easily return to the workforce.
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