Minister calls for paternity leave to be doubled

16 February 2007

Children’s minister Beverley Hughes has called for paid paternity leave to be doubled, and for pay to be improved for maternity, paternity and parental leave.

Writing in her capacity as a Labour MP rather than as children’s minister, in a book published by think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research, the children’s minister said work-life balance is “unobtainable” for many low-income families, “where the impact of low pay, job insecurity and long working hours bite hardest”.

Ms Hughes said parental leave should be doubled to 26 weeks in the first five years of a child’s life and the first 13 weeks should be paid. Maternity and paternity pay should be increased from the current £109 a week, equivalent to two-thirds of the minimum wage.

Ms Hughes said: “We need to help families negotiate the balancing act between care work and paid work, avoiding negative trade-offs between time and money.”

The MP also called for the right to flexible working to be extended from parents of young or disabled children and carers to all employees.

The book was published by the IPPR in May to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the Labour government.