Government Responds To Fathers & The Workplace Report
On 20 March 2018, the Women and Equalities Committee published a report, Fathers and the workplace, which called on the government to make a number of improvements to fathers' rights at work, such as removing the qualifying period for paternity leave to make it a "day one" right and increasing the rate of statutory paternity pay to 90% of earnings, (subject to a cap for high earners) (see Legal update, Women and Equalities Committee proposes better rights for fathers in the workplace).
On 18 June 2018, the government published its response which addressed the following:
- Paternity leave and pay. The government stated that it was unlikely to follow the Committee's recommendation of providing employed fathers with two weeks’ paternity leave as a day-one right (as it currently is for maternity pay). It noted that maternity leave was in a unique category as it gave women the time to physically recover from childbirth. The government said it would seek more views on paternity leave and pay in a forthcoming Maternity and Paternity Rights Survey.
- Shared parental leave and pay. The government said that further consultation was needed before they could accept the Committee's recommendation of an additional 12-week paternal leave entitlement (to be taken in the first year), which would replace the current shared parental leave system. It said that the current system was still "relatively new and has had little time to bed in".
- Time off and flexible working. The government rejected the Committee's suggestion that employed fathers should be entitled to paid time off to attend antenatal appointments as a day-one right, insisting that the current policy struck the correct balance between the rights of fathers and employers. Regarding flexible working, it stated that a taskforce had been created to examine whether all new jobs should be advertised as flexible by default in advance of the evaluation of the right to request flexible working in 2019.
The government said it would await the outcome of the Maternity and Paternity Rights Survey before it considered whether "paternity" should be a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.
Sources: Parliament.UK - Dads not taking up workplace support / Practical Law
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