Government rejects recommendations on fathers and the workplace

By agency reporter
June 16, 2018

The Women and Equalities Committee has published the Government's response to their report on Fathers and the workplace. The Government has said it wants a public debate about funding workplace support for fathers, in response to the report. However, it rejects most of the recommendations which were designed to modernise workplace policies for 21st century families. 

Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society said: "This is a huge missed opportunity to help families and to address one of the biggest inequalities in our society. We need nothing short of a revolution in our approach to leave for dads and yet what we have is a government in denial. This is not the 1950s. The world has radically changed and government policy must urgently catch up.

"Shared Parental Leave doesn't deliver what we need because it doesn't start from a presumption of equal responsibility to care. Until we create a longer, better paid period of use it or lose it leave for fathers which they can afford to take we won't make any meaningful progress on closing the pay gap and pregnancy discrimination will continue to be an everyday occurrence."

Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Maria Miller MP, said: “The Government has previously voiced good intentions when it comes to family friendly policies but the response to our report is a missed opportunity.

"Dads are calling for change and the Gender Pay Gap will not be tackled until dads get the support they need to support their children too.
 
"Our inquiry heard from a range of well-informed voices including employers, unions and fathers themselves. Many cited the poor take up of key initiatives such as Shared Parental Leave as sign they are not working. It is regrettable that more of this evidence base has not been acted upon.  
 
"It is also surprising that the Government’s response does not refer to its own recently published research on the gender pay gap which found that if men and women took similar amounts of unpaid family leave the gender pay gap would decrease by 13 per cent.  
 
"Despite this, there is some encouragement that ministers recognise the need for a debate about the costs and benefits of modernising workplace support for fathers and families. We will continue to press for reform.” 

Julia Waltham, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Working Families, the work life balance charity, said: "The government’s response can be summed up in five words – heavy on the long grass.  Action to support fathers in the workplace – particularly around the levels of statutory pay and support for self-employed fathers – is already long overdue.

"Sufficient pay is crucial to encourage fathers to take leave around childbirth and in the first year; the current levels of paternity and shared parental pay are not sufficient to ensure all fathers use it.  The government’s response is another missed opportunity to address this.

"We’re disappointed that, again, the government feels standalone ‘use it or lose it’ paternity leave – whereby fathers can take a longer period of properly paid time off – does not require action.  Figures suggest the gender pay gap will take a generation to close. This constant delay in acting is a false economy.

"Self-employed fathers – many of whom will have had self-employment imposed on them by their employer – will lose out most from government inaction.  Their situation remains the same – no right to paternity or shared parental leave or pay and no sign of a government plan to make taking time off after the birth of their child a more realistic option for them."

* Download the full report and the Government response here

* Fawcett Society https://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/

* Working Families https://www.workingfamilies.org.uk/

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