“Productive Parents” – a report from REFORM

20 July 2009

Britain’s arrangements for parental leave are unfair, anti-dad and bad for business according to a new report by the independent think tank Reform.  The study shows that fathers are treated as an irrelevance and that government maternity pay is much more generous for rich mothers than poor.  The report recommends making maternity leave flatter, fairer and flexible, so that all working families receive £5,000 over six months.  This change will not cost taxpayers any more money.

The report, "Productive Parents", shows that current arrangements for parental leave are short-changing the families that need it most.  While professionals and managers can rely on generous employer help and afford time off, those in casual and low skilled jobs receive the least pay and take the least maternity leave.  Mothers earning £50,000 and taking six months leave receive nearly £8,000 from the taxpayer.  Mothers earning the minimum wage (£12,000 per year) receive only £4,500.

British fathers are the "invisible men", with few rights to parental leave.  But the report shows that families are stronger and fathers more likely to read to their children if they take paternity leave.  Nearly every other developed country provides greater fairness between mothers and fathers.

Reform is an independent, non-party think tank whose mission is to set out a better way to deliver public services and economic prosperity.