Beach stunt highlights worst paternity leave in Europe

Pregnant Then Screwed stage paternity leave stunt at Labour Party Conference to highlight inadequate paternity leave in the UK.

paternity leave stunt labour conference


Pregnant Then Screwed has turned iconic Anthony Gormley statues on Crosby Beach in Liverpool into dads to highlight inadequate paternity leave in the UK. Today, just 5% of eligible dads use shared parental leave – leaving dads, and families, ‘out at sea’.

This stunt hit Crosby Beach at the time of the Labour Party Conference to put pressure on politicians to implement meaningful parental leave reform for struggling families. Babies have been strapped to the front of 5 out of 100 statues to represent the 5% of dads who access shared parental leave today, a policy which has failed on every measure. The piercing sound of a distressed baby cry fills the sea air as a metaphor for families ‘cry for help’ from political parties as they debate future policy reform.

Joeli Brearley, CEO and Founder of Pregnant Then Screwed, said, “We are so far behind other countries on this it is embarrassing. Politicians talk a good game about closing the gender pay gap, supporting families and improving outcomes for children yet we have the worst paternity benefit in Europe, one of the worst maternity benefits and a crumbling childcare system. All of the evidence shows that increasing paternity leave and paying at a decent percentage of salary is good for the economy and good for society.

Just as the Liberal Democrats did at their Party conference, we hope Labour will show their commitment to these policies, placing families at the heart of their vision for a better Britain.”

Today, just 18% of Brits think that two weeks of paternity leave is enough, and one in five dads can’t afford to take any paternity leave at all. Maternity leave uptake has been on a downturn since Covid too – with mothers returning to work earlier than they would like due to measly statutory maternity pay, which is less than half the minimum wage.

Earlier this year, Pregnant Then Screwed developed a report with The Centre for Progressive policy and Women in Data® on the societal and economic impact of paternity leave. The research found that countries with more than six weeks of paid paternity leave have a 4% smaller gender wage gap and 3.7% smaller labour force participation gap. closing gender employment gaps in all UK authorities would increase economic output by £23 billion.

On top of this, When fathers and partners take paternity leave, it supports the mother’s return to the labour market, and it supports the mental health of both parents.

Pregnant then Screwed is calling on the government to increase the length of non-transferable paternity leave to a minimum of six weeks and to pay it at 90% of income in line with current statutory maternity pay, alongside enhancing existing maternity rights to reduce financial hardship, the gender employment gap, and the gender pay gap, whilst improving the educational outcomes for children. Paternity leave should be available to all working dads and partners.

Later, ‘babies’ moved inside the conference venue wearing baby grows with slogans including: ‘Longer paternity leave = healthier mums’; ‘Longer paternity leave = less pressure on the NHS’ and ‘Longer paternity leave = a more productive workforce’.

Pregnant Then Screwed has also launched a petition on the issue which has garnered 125,000 signatures.

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