A report from the Women and Equalities Committees on dads calls for 12 weeks of dedicated paternity leave.
A report from the Women and Equalities Committee in March 2018 suggested that the Government should consider introducing a new policy of 12 weeks’ standalone fathers’ leave in the child’s first year as an alternative to shared parental leave.
The report said that statutory paternity pay should be more in line with statutory maternity pay, whereby fathers would be paid 90% of their salary for the first four weeks (with a cap for higher earners), and at statutory pay levels for the remaining eight weeks.
This would incur extra costs, but the report argues that it could mean mothers taking less maternity leave and being more likely to remain in the workforce – as well as maintaining longer term financial security.
The Committee says the recommendations should form part of a wider reform of workplace policies to better meet the needs of modern families and support dads in taking a greater role in caring for their children.
The report stated that current policies which are designed to support fathers in the workplace, such as Shared Parental Leave and the right to request flexible working, do not deliver what they set out to, despite good intentions. Enabling dads to take a more active role in childcare is a key factor in addressing the gender pay gap – something that is high on the agenda since the first round of reporting in Spring 2018.
Chair of the Committee, Maria Miller MP, said: “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. 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. Outdated assumptions about men’s and women’s roles in relation to work and childcare are a further barrier to change.
“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.”