Government fails Father’s Day test by dodging Gender Pay Gap reform

14 June 2018

Government rejection today of an influential Parliamentary Select Committee plan to reform UK parenting leave leaves the Gender Pay Gap unchallenged and fathers out in the cold, says think-tank.

This Father’s Day the Fatherhood Institute calls on the UK Government to rethink its family policies, which betray families by failing to support fathers’ caring – damaging mothers’ careers, family stability, child outcomes and fathers’ involvement in their children’s lives.

Current policies include the most gender-unequal parenting leave system in the developed world and failure to invite fathers to even one antenatal care appointment, despite the fact 95% of couples are in a close relationship at the time of the birth, and despite the Government’s own declared ambition for ‘as many fathers and partners as possible to be able to attend’ (1).

The Government’s rejection of the Women and Equalities Committee parenting leave recommendations also flies in the face of evidence about both parents’ heartfelt wishes, fathers’ impact on children and how fathers can be enabled to take parenting leave – as outlined in the Fatherhood Institute’s three-part Nuffield Foundation-funded research review, Contemporary Fathers in the UK, the last part of which is published this week (2).

Three key policy changes the government MUST make to reflect the realities of modern families – and support both parents as earners and carers – are as follows:

  1. Do a U-turn on its rejection (announced today, 14 June 2018) of the Women & Equalities Committee’s recommendation to introduce 3 months’ ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ daddy-leave in their baby’s first year (3).
  2. Implement existing NHS guidance to provide ‘woman-focused, family-centred’ maternity services, which are supposed to involve fathers in the care of their partner and baby – but which mainly don’t (4).
  3. Collect data on fathers (and mothers) who live part-time with their children, instead of only collecting data on one household per family (5).

Adrienne Burgess, Joint CEO of the Fatherhood Institute said:  “The extent to which the Government response to the Committee’s far-sighted report, mis-represents research findings in order to wriggle out of supporting fathers’ caretaking, is shocking.  It also flies in the face of international and UK research evidence of the benefits to families, as well as its own estimate (6) that 69% of the Gender Pay Gap is accounted for by differentials between men’s and women’s use of unpaid family leave (13%), and disruption in work histories (56%), mainly due to family caretaking.  And that estimate does not include the huge gender disparity in availability and uptake of PAID leave for parenting”

 

Notes to editors

1 Government, in its Response (14 June 2018) to the Women & Equalities Committee report on fathers in the workplace says: ‘The Government would like as many fathers and partners as possible to be able to attend antenatal appointments.’  Read the Government response here https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/women-and-equalities-committee/news-parliament-2017/fathers-workplace-government-response-17-19/.

2 For more information about the Contemporary Fathers in the UK series, and to download all the reports, visit http://www.fatherhoodinstitute.org/2017/contemporary-fathers-in-the-uk/.

3.The Government has rejected all the proposals from the Women & Equalities Committee Report https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmwomeq/358/35802.htm  including the Committee’s recommendation of 12 weeks’ dedicated leave for fathers in the child’s first year, to replace the current, failed Shared Parental Leave system.  SPL take-up, by the Government’s own admission runs to fewer than 10% of new-parent-couples (https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmwomeq/358/35802.htm Paragraph  62)) – not surprisingly, given that only 3 out of 7 are eligible, and that this inequitable system discriminates against lower paid parents and those in unstable employment. The Committee’s recommendation for a dedicated ‘use it or lose it’ leave for new fathers accords with the Fatherhood Institute’s own recommendation, as outlined in our Nuffield Foundation-funded Cash or Carry? report, for a non-transferable 13-week leave (the ‘Father’s Quota’), reserved for fathers/ mothers’ partners to be taken in the first year of an infant’s life.(Full report: http://www.fatherhoodinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Cash-and-carry-Full-Report-PDF.pdf; Executive summary: http://www.fatherhoodinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Cash-or-carry-Executive-Summary-PDF-3.pdf.)

4 Since 2004, NHS policy has required maternity services to deliver ‘mother-focused and family centred’ care. A Fatherhood Institute/Fathers Network Scotland poll How was it for you? published this week found that 65% of new dads had not been offered the chance to discuss their role by maternity services; 56% were not addressed by name; 48% were not asked about their smoking, despite the harmful impacts of fathers’ smoking on babies and on mothers’ own smoking behaviour; and only 18% of dads were asked about their mental health, despite fathers’ mental health being closely correlated with mothers’. In 2010 then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged that the NHS would provide overnight facilities for dads in maternity units; our survey found that these were available to only 17% of men becoming dads in the last 5 years. (Poll results: http://www.fatherhoodinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/How-was-it-for-you-UK-results.pdf; Full report: http://www.fatherhoodinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Whos-the-Bloke-in-the-Room-Full-Report.pdf; and Executive summary: http://www.fatherhoodinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Whos-the-Bloke-Executive-Summary.pdf.)

5 The simplistic classification of fathers as either ‘resident’ or ‘non-resident’ in UK datasets and public service records masks a wide range of care-and-contact patterns, including – as is common after parents’ separation – where children spend time in two households . Identifying and studying the full range of fathers and father-figures in, and attached to, modern families could provide nationally representative data not only about the men’s caretaking, but also about their health, wellbeing, employment, attitudes, finances, and impacts on children and mothers, usefully informing both policy and practice. (Full report: http://www.fatherhoodinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Wheres-the-daddy-Full-Report.pdf; Executive summary: http://www.fatherhoodinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Wheres-the-daddy-Executive-Summary-3.pdf.)

6 Government Equalities Office report (p.23): The gender pay gap in the UK: evidence from the UKHLS: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-gender-pay-gap-in-the-uk-evidence-from-the-ukhls

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact Jeremy Davies, Head of Communications, on 0780 371 1692, or email j.davies@fatherhoodinstitute.org.

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