Father’s Day is a time for celebrating the importance of fathers in our communities and NCT and Maternity Action are using this opportunity to call on Government to implement proposals on parental leave as soon as possible.
The Government had promised to implement plans for 12 months of paid leave in the first year of their baby’s life and greater choice about which parent takes that leave. Currently fathers are limited to two weeks paid leave and there are no options for dads to share in parenting leave during the child’s first year.
However these plans, due to be in place by 2010, have stalled. The NCT and Maternity Action want to see them kick started again. By extending maternity pay to cover the full twelve months of leave, parents would receive an extra £1600.
Both organisations believe that current provisions for maternity and paternity leave undermine the importance of parenthood for fathers and enforce a situation where child and family care is the domain of mothers. Providing realistic leave options for fathers is essential in enabling them to take time off paid work and allowing parents the choice of who cares for their children.
Belinda Phipps, Chief Executive, NCT, says;
“The Government is clear on its belief that fathers are central to their work in supporting families, yet we have seen no action taken to allow fathers to have more involvement in those early days. This Father’s Day, the best present the Government could give is to reaffirm its commitment to make flexible, paid leave for parents a priority. This will allow families to organise caring responsibilities in the way that works best for them.
“At the last election, support for working families was a core part of the Government’s manifesto, yet mothers who wish to take their full entitlement of maternity leave continue to take the final 13 weeks unpaid which can leave families out of pocket. This is inaccessible for families on a low income.
“We want to see taking time off to parent young children a reality for a much wider group of parents regardless of income and we need to see the proposals to increase periods of paid leave for both mothers and fathers kick started.”
Ros Bragg, Director, Maternity Action, says;
"We need to see the Government offering real options for families to share leave and not leave this important issue on the backburner.
”The Government has failed to honour its commitment to extend maternity pay to cover the full twelve months of leave. Employers won’t be out of pocket as they can claim statutory maternity and paternity pay back from the Government
”Leave which is unpaid is inaccessible to families on low incomes. Many parents have little choice but to place their child in care at nine months, even if they don’t feel ready to do so.”
The NCT charity has been instrumental in helping fathers play a key role in early family life, starting with the birth of their child. Since the 1950’s, over a generation of babies have been born with their fathers in the delivery room thanks to campaigning from the NCT charity to allow dads to attend the birth. The NCT continues today to campaign to allow fathers to play a greater role in family life.