New Shared Parental Leave legislation will not only create fairer working conditions but will also benefit the economy by increasing productivity, according to deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.
Clegg’s comments come as a report by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) suggests many working fathers regret missing milestones in their children’s early lives due to working commitments. The survey of working parents reveals one-quarter of professional dads missed their children’s first steps because of work.
The same research suggests only 1 in 10 working mothers have missed their child’s first steps for the same reason.
Missing events such as this has led to around one-third (32%) of dads saying they regret not taking more leave in the early stages of fatherhood. The new SPL laws, coming into effect on 5 April, are designed to offer mothers the option to share a portion of their 52 weeks maternity leave and 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay with their partners.
Clegg said the new rules will go some way to support parents by creating “a more family friendly Britain which works for them, not against them”.
“Put simply, we’re relegating these out-dated assumptions that women will always be the parents at home while fathers go out to work,” he continued. “We know more men want to be more involved with their children at home and, crucially, we know the difference it makes to a child’s development when they do.
“With the introduction of Shared Parental Leave, mothers and fathers will for the first time ever be able to decide for themselves how to divide the leave available after their child is born. This isn’t just fairer for families but it’s better for the economy too, boosting business productivity and helping companies recruit and keep the best talent.”
Employment relations minister Jo Swinson added that offering parents more choice around the way they take their leave will mean “mums and dads get to spend time developing that vital bond with their baby in the early stages”.
“Dads care just as much about first steps and first words as mums – so it’s crucial that the system gives fathers the chance to be there,” she said.
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