Letter slams government for parental leave consultation

“We urge you to reconsider” argues an open letter signed by dozens of high-profile advocates.

open letter parental leave government


Representatives from the Fatherhood Institute, Pregnant Then Screwed, the Centre for Progressive Policy and many others have signed an open letter castigating the government for its much-delayed response to a 2019 consultation on statutory paternity leave and the parental leave system.

The letter, posted on LinkedIn is addressed to Kemi Badenoch, the Secretary of State for Business and Trade.

Part of it reads, “Your decision not to reform the system flies in the face of evidence from your own consultation, and from high quality research and analysis published since it was announced (almost four years ago, in 2019), suggesting positive impacts for families, employers and the economy from improving the statutory paternity and parental leave offer for fathers/ second parents.

It beggars belief that it has taken the Government so long to analyse the responses to this 2019 consultation and publish its own response.”

It particularly criticises the government for failing to extend statutory paternity leave entitlement and for not thinking about better access to paternity leave.

One section says, “Recent research by Pregnant Then Screwed, the Centre for Progressive Policy and Women in Data estimates that longer, better-paid leave for fathers/ second parents could contribute to greater gender equality in the labour market at a cost to UK taxpayers of between £1 billion and £1.6 billion (Pregnant Then Screwed, 2023). CPP has separately estimated that closing the employment gap between men and women could result in a boost of as much as £23 billion in economic output, equating to 1% of the UK’s gross domestic product (CPP, 2023).”

The signees included Kathy Jones and Adrienne Burgess, Joint CEOs, Fatherhood Institute, Joeli Brearley, Founder and Director, Pregnant Then Screwed, as well as dad bloggers like Elliott Rae, of Music Football Fatherhood, James Millar from Dads Don’t Babysit and Dan Flanagan, founder of Dad La Soul.

The letter acknowledges one useful improvement, that eligible fathers/ second parents will be able to take their fortnight of leave in two separate one-week blocks.

But otherwise, it explains, “You admit the tweaks you have announced are “not the radical reforms that some respondents argued for”; with that we can certainly agree.

However, you go on to claim that “Given the current context and the acute pressures on employers, we are proposing measures that we believe will broaden the take-up of these important employment rights, including by those in low-paid or low-skilled jobs, or with protected characteristics, whilst also being affordable”.

We are aware of no evidence – including that provided in the papers published alongside your announcement (Department for Business & Trade, 2023a and 2023b) – that allowing fathers to split paternity leave into weekly chunks, will achieve the wider take-up you claim.

In summary, we believe your announcement demonstrates a failure to acknowledge extensive evidence about the importance of fathers’ role in the early weeks and months, about the unaffordability of the current system, and about the potential for additional government investment in paternity/ fathers’ leave, to bring economic benefits through reduced gender pay and labour participation gaps.”

Read the full letter here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/open-letter-calling-rethink-paternity-parental/

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