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Why we need six weeks' well-paid leave for new dads

Latest figures show that the UK’s gender pay gap is now 14.9% – which is higher than the EU average (12.7%). How can we address this sticky problem? Well there’s a growing consensus that part of the solution should be a father-inclusive parenting leave system, including a minimum of six weeks’ well-paid leave for dads.

The maternity rights charity Maternity Action has published a series of blogs (here’s the first, the second and the third) setting out its vision for how the failed shared parental leave (SPL) scheme could be replaced. Like ourselves, Maternity Action has been a vocal critic of SPL, and the current government’s continued failure to publish a response to its own 2019 consultation about it.

The organisation’s proposed model for reform differs from what we proposed in our 2022 Daddy Leave working paper (available via the resources section of our website) – where we argued for two weeks’ well-paid paternity leave and four weeks’ well-paid parental leave (a ‘Daddy Month’) for fathers; along with 40 weeks’ parental leave that could be taken by either parent; and a shorter but better paid maternity leave for mothers.

But Maternity Action would support two weeks’ paternity leave and a month’s worth of parental leave for fathers, all paid at 90% of average earnings (see its blog 3).

Pregnant Then Screwed, another key maternity rights organisation lobbying for parenting leave reform, is also in agreement that fathers need six weeks’ well-paid leave.

It feels like a big cause for celebration that our three organisations – two of which have a strong maternal focus – are now in agreement that six weeks’ well-paid leave for dads is a sensible way forward. Now we just need to persuade the politicians that father-inclusive parenting leave is a vote-winner…

While we set our minds to that, check out this excellent video by Richard Reeves, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of Of Boys and Men, about gender pay gaps and how to close them.



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