Sid Madge is founder of Meee (My Education Employment Enterprise) which draws on the best...read more
Politics has gone mad and it’s anyone’s guess what happens next, but amid the chaos there is opportunity to make ourselves heard
It’s been a newsy week.
From a working dads point of view the biggest and best headline is the increase in uptake of Shared Parental Leave.
But talk of a general election has dominated the news. How October plays out politically could have big repercussions for working dads.
For a start, whether parliament is shut down ahead of a new Queen’s speech or dissolved because there’s a general election the bill making all jobs flexible by default is now dead. Back in July social media influencers Mother Pukka and Papa Pukka led a coalition of campaigners to parliament. A draft law that would force firms to advertise all jobs as flexible unless they could justify otherwise cleared its first hurdle. It won’t get the chance to take on any more. It’s likely the groups calling for the change, including The Fatherhood Institute and Pregnant then Screwed, will look to revive it, but for now it’s destined to fall.
The domestic abuse bill is likely to go the same way. Of course women are more likely to be victims of domestic abuse, though some men undoubtedly suffer too. But for anyone with an interest in gender equality it’s at best disappointing and at worst appalling that such an important piece of legislation is being so casually set aside.
Both could become general election issues. It seems likely there will be an election before autumn is out.
It may be set up as a Brexit election but as we saw in 2017 other issues are likely to get aired.
Tories have a perhaps surprising interest in workplace rights for dads. It’d be disappointing if their manifesto doesn’t include an offer of more paternity leave. Labour will be aware of this and may try to match it. While the Lib Dems are now led by Jo Swinson, who introduced Shared Parental Leave as a minister in the Tory-Lib Dem coalition government of 2010-15. Expect any manifesto she’s involved in to offer some fairly radical policies on the world of work.
An election hands power to us the voters. It’s up to us to ask candidates and leaders about their views on gender equality and where men and dads fit into that. In a contest that is likely to come down to fine margins there’s a real opportunity to make the dad vote count.
Then there’s Brexit. Whenever we leave the EU – and it’s likely a when rather than an if – the UK is free to make radical changes to labour laws if it wants. If a withdrawal deal is struck there’s unlikely to be much change in the near future. But if we crash out with no deal then Eurocrats are certainly concerned that the UK will seek to emulate Singapore and rip up red tape – otherwise known as workplace benefits and protections.
The flipside of that is that a new administration could beef up dads rights, increase paternity leave and make Shared Parental Leave more affordable for all. But for that to happen they have to know there’s demand for it – and votes in it.
It’s up to all of us to shape the agenda and be ready to make our voices heard.