HR Magazine seeks views on parental leave policies

ended 01. June 2021

A journalist at HR Magazine is putting together a news story on Ed Miliband calling for dads to get 12 weeks’ paternity leave and is seeking answers from HR professionals to the following question:

  • Should employers have learnt (by now) that childcare is a male and female role, and change their parental leave policy as a result?

5 responses from the Newspage community

Star Quote
"This is a really positive step towards the human-centric approach we believe all businesses need to adopt in the workplace. Society has evolved and the role of fathers has changed dramatically in the past 50 years, and we need workplaces to represent the future not the past in how employers support their staff to raise their children. "For most families today, parenting is very much a team effort and historical policies on paternal rights are no longer fit for purpose. Not only do they limit a fathers opportunity to bond with their children but the ripple effects are felt through the whole family. They reinforce gender stereotypes, prevent families from managing work as a unit and, most crucially, set the wrong example for our children to take forward. "The chance to be present for our children as they grow is a right we should all be afforded and, while I recognise this change will take time to realise, the sooner we are able to create a level playing field for both parents the better it will be for our children’s future."
"Both parents have a responsibility for the upbringing of a child. I am seeing more and more employees trying to figure out shared parental leave and if it is financially beneficial for them. Let's be honest: it is not the most user-friendly system in the world. "Many households have a female who contributes more to the family's finances and if there is no Occupational Maternity Pay then going from circa £1153 a week based on a £60K salary to £160 a week is a problem. "If a partner could get 12 weeks of paid paternity leave (by the Government/employer), not only would it help with the finances but it would also allow both parents to 'enjoy' the first part of their baby's life. Most parents don't want to have children just to hand them over to someone else to look after. "A child is a shared responsibility and as such support and time off should be more proportional - not only for paternity but also for when the child is sick and taking time off should not always fall on the mother."
“The continued manifestation of patriarchy in one form or another continues to nurture inequalities, especially in the workplace. "If the UK Government truly coveted equality, a good starting place would be to look north. According to OECD data, Sweden, followed by Iceland, has the highest labour force participation rates (calculated as the labour force divided by the total working-age population). The UK is trailing in a lame 17th position. "Instead, successive UK Governments have perpetuated complicated unworkable policies, such as Shared Parental Leave introduced in 2015. A 2020 study found uptake of eligible couples was “exceptionally low” with only 2% making use of SPL. "After decades of waiting for systemic inequality to ebb away, my advice to Government would be this: stop tinkering around the edges and take a leaf out of Sweden's book and get equality done.”
"Personally, I think Mr Miliband's statement is a little idealist and out of sync with smaller business. It's a lovely idea that a one-size-fits-all approach is the solution but this works better in theory than in practice. "In our experience, as a provider of HR support to micro and SME businesses, I'd like to believe that most, if not all, business owners acknowledge and accept that childcare is a shared responsibility. "As a business owner and working parent myself, I think there are two sides to this question, namely responsibility and affordability. "After all, you can have the best policy ever that encourages shared rights but if it's not financially viable for the business or rewarding for either party it becomes a moot point. "Small businesses are still struggling right now, and we know from experience that maternity and paternity leave remain a challenge to them, both in terms of the financial cost and business continuity. "As we enter a period of increased interest in 'flexible' working, we are actively encouraging our clients to use this time to really collaborate and speak to their employees about more flexible working practices, which doesn't just address the option to WFH but also parental leave. "That a one-size-fits-all approach to things is a panacea should be shelved in favour or what suits the business and the culture it wants to create; after all, it's the culture that attracts or puts off the employee."
"If we want equality in the workplace it should be within all policies and apply to employees' children, too. Well-rounded people bring up well-rounded kids."