Barnardo’s is urging employers to throw their weight behind a new law which allows fathers of new babies to share parental leave with their partners.
Parents of all babies or adopted born from today can now split up to 52 weeks of shared parental leave between them as well as up to 39 weeks of statutory shared parental pay. However, the charity is warning that the legislation won’t have the desired impact unless businesses give it their full backing.
The charity is calling on organisations to support and encourage parents to share parental leave. They also want measures to be put in place to reduce the social stigma surrounding a father taking time off to be with their child.
Research has found that 70% of part-time working fathers think there is a social stigma attached to paternity leave.
Barnardo’s is welcoming the new measures and believes they will allow low paid working families, where the mother is the higher earner, the opportunity to provide parental support for their child without worrying about losing their jobs. The legislation applies equally for same sex and adoptive couples.
This can only work with a significant shift in social attitudes that addresses the difficulties parents have when considering how to manage their childcare needs. This includes any plans for longer paternity leave, flexible working, help with childcare costs and welfare support.
The relationship between a father and their child starts before the child is born. It’s now known that a baby can hear his or her dad’s voice when still in the womb. The father’s presence in the first days of a child’s life provides a key foundation for their security and well-being.
Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan says:
Leave to look after children is not only a woman’s issue. This law can spearhead a profound cultural change and tackle long-standing gender-biased attitudes to parenting.
This will ensure even the most vulnerable children have parental support in the earliest stages of their life, regardless of whether their parents are in a same sex relationship or they are adopted. But there’s a danger it could run into the sand quickly unless employers give it their full support.
This entitlement must be met with a commitment from businesses to ensure employees understand their rights and suffer no stigma in the workplace for taking parental leave.
The first year of a child’s life is a precious time for the whole family. The bonds which fathers and mothers form with their babies must be strong enough to last a lifetime.
All employers must allow fathers and mothers to spend time with their children without fear of discrimination or blighted career prospects.”