MPs call for fathers’ rights around parental leave

27 March 2017 A letter signed by a cross-party group of 44 MPs has called on the government to provide better workers' rights to fathers, according to the Independent.

27 Mar 2017| News

27 March 2017

A letter signed by a cross-party group of 44 MPs has called on the government to provide better workers’ rights to fathers, according to the Independent.

The document, which was addressed to Equalities Secretary Justine Greening, was reported by the paper as calling for a statutory entitlement to three months of non-transferable parental leave for dads or second parents, compensated at the same rate as maternity pay (including the first four weeks of higher pay that new mothers receive).

Chair of the All Parliamentary Group on Fatherhood David Lammy, a Labour MP, organised the letter and told the Independent there is clear evidence that “fathers want to be more engaged, they want to spend more time with their children, and they want to share the burden of parenthood equally but they are worried that this will mean that they lose out at work and that their employer will penalise them”.

The letter argues that by strengthening fathers’ rights, the responsibility for childcare – which currently lands “disproportionately” in the laps of women – can be shared more equally within the family, allowing women greater opportunities at work and fathers more opportunities at home. This will also help to reduce the gender pay gap by helping women to stay in the workforce.

“As well as enabling fathers to play a more active role in childcare from an early stage, an effective policy on [shared parental leave] is absolutely essential to closing both the employment gap and the gender pay gap for women in the workplace by giving working families more choice and flexibility and supporting mothers who want to return to work early,” the letter was quoted as saying.

The Independent also reported that the government’s current legislation for shared parental leave has not met its aims, with HMRC data showing that only 3,000 couples taking advantage of the policy in the first three months of 2016 – equal to around 2% of families in which only the mother took time off work.