Lukewarm response from Government to Fathers and the workplace report
The Government has responded to the Women and Equalities Committee's report, Fathers and the workplace, rejecting the majority of its recommendations without proposing alternative solutions.
Earlier this year the Women and Equalities Committee published a report calling for improved rights for fathers at work. The Government has now responded to that report.
Additional 12 week paternal leave entitlement
The Committee recommended replacing shared parental leave and pay with a separate right for fathers to take 12 weeks' paternal leave, paid at 90% of salary for four weeks, with the balance paid at the statutory rate. The Government has said that it will take the Committee’s criticisms of the current system into account as part of its current evaluation of shared parental leave and pay. However, it is committed to shared parental leave, a system which is still relatively new and has had little time to bed in. It also believes that a system of shared leave is more likely to promote equal sharing of childcare and work responsibilities.
Paternity leave should be day one right
The Committee recommended that the current right to two weeks’ paternity leave should become a day one right, paid at 90% of earnings (subject to a cap for high earners) in the same way that maternity leave is a day one right. The Government response doubts whether the higher level of public expenditure associated with this recommendation would be warranted by the potential benefits but it will be seeking evidence on this question.
Day one right for fathers to attend ante-natal appointments
The Government rejected the Committee’s recommendation that fathers should have a day one right to paid time off to attend ante-natal appointments, saying that the current position strikes the right balance between allowing fathers time off to attend such appointments and an employer’s need to balance all the family and annual leave requirements in the context of running a business.
The Government rejected the Committee’s recommendation that it should legislate so that all new jobs are advertised as flexible, deciding instead on a voluntary approach pending its evaluation of the right to request flexible working, which is due in 2019.
Paternity as a protected characteristic
The Government gave a non-committal response to the Committee’s suggestion that it consider making “paternity” an additional protected characteristic, saying simply that it will monitor the results of its planned 2018 Maternity and Paternity Rights survey to gain a greater understanding of the experience of working fathers.
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