Fathers are not being supported by workplace policies
In response to our report, the Government rejects most of our recommendations designed to modernise workplace policies for families.
In its response, the Government accepts the need for change but rejects many of the recommendations made without alternative solutions in response to the evidence that the Committee heard during its inquiry – thus also failing to address the gender pay gap.
Here are 7 policy recommendations to provide fathers with the support needed to care for their children.
The role of fathers in their children's lives is changing.
They increasingly want to take on more responsibility for childcare and are looking for ways to do so.
However, it is still the case that mothers in couple families take on responsibility for twice as much of the childcare, and most of the domestic work, while fathers are more likely to be the main breadwinner.
This contributes to the gender pay gap, which is far wider between mothers and fathers than it is between women and men in general.
The current policies supporting fathers in the workplace do not deliver what they promise, despite good intentions. This is particularly the case for less well-off fathers.
Paid paternity leave was only introduced in the UK in 2003, and this historical lack of workplace support for fathers both reflects and reinforces cultural assumptions about traditional gender roles where the father is the breadwinner and the mother is the primary carer.
Fathers should not have to wait longer for workplace policies to catch up with the social changes that are taking place in men and women's lives.
Incremental change now will not meet the needs of fathers, mothers, children or the economy in the future.
The Government policy needs to change in order for fathers to be able to play the role in their families that they want to play.
Here are 7 policy recommendations to provide fathers with the support needed to care for their children:
1. Statutory paternity pay should be paid at 90 per cent of the father's pay (capped for higher earners) to ensure that all fathers, regardless of income, can be at home around the time of their child’s birth.
2. Fathers who are employees should be eligible for two weeks' paternity leave as a day-one right, similar to maternity leave.
3. The Government should act now to harmonise workplace rights for fathers who are agency workers or self-employed with those for employed fathers where practical
Fathers who are agency workers should be eligible for paternity pay with the same eligibility requirements as agency worker mothers have for maternity pay. Self-employed fathers should be eligible for a Paternity Allowance, similar to Maternity Allowance.
4. The Government should seek to legislate immediately to make a reality the Prime Minister's call for all jobs to be advertised as flexible from day one, unless there are solid business reasons not to.
5. Fathers should be entitled to paid time off to attend antenatal appointments.
This should include agency workers, who should be entitled to unpaid time off to attend antenatal appointments as a day-one right, and to paid time off to attend antenatal appointments once they have been with the same company for 12 weeks.
6. The Government should also analyse the costs and benefits of an alternative policy of 12 weeks paternal leave and pay to replace shared parental leave.
7. To help drive cultural change in the workplace the Government should consider the benefits of amending the protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010 to add an additional characteristic of 'paternity'.
The characteristic of 'paternity' should look at what period it would cover and which groups of working fathers it would apply to.
We are giving these recommendations to the Government as the Women and Equalities Committee, 11 MPs from different political parties.
If you're interested in the work of our committee, find out more about our other inquiries.