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Government will not be improving rights for fathers any time soon

The Government has published its response to the Women and Equalities Select Committee’s recent report.

In March this year, the House of Commons’ Women and Equalities Select Committee published its report, ‘Fathers and the Workplace’ setting out its recommendations for new legislation to support working parents better. The recommendations included:

  • Giving all new fathers their own independent and paid right to leave;
  • Making paternity a “day one” right;
  • Increasing the statutory rate of paternity pay to 90% of earnings (subject to a cap for higher earners); and
  • Offering 12 weeks of “use it or lose it” leave.

In June 2018, the Government published its response. It accepted the need for change but rejected many of the Committee’s recommendations designed to modernise workplace policies. The report concluded:

  • The Government was unlikely to follow the recommendation of making paternity leave a day-one right, as it currently is for maternity pay; and
  • With regard to Shared Parental Leave, further consultation was needed. The Government stated that it is “committed” to the concept and it has had “little time to bed in.”

In dismissing the Committee’s recommendations, the Government failed to put forward alternative solutions. Maria Miller, Chair of the Committee said, “The Government has previously voiced good intentions when it comes to family friendly policies but the response to our report is a missed opportunity.”

It is therefore clear that further reform of family friendly rights is not on the immediate horizon. The response did, however, comment that the forthcoming Maternity and Paternity Rights Survey this year will provide more data for the Government to consider parental leave in greater detail. The Government’s response can be found here.