Back new law for fathers

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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 born from April 4 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 legislation won’t have the desired impact unless businesses give it their full backing.

We believe the new measures will allow low-paid working families, where the mother is the higher earner, the chance 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.

Leave to look after children is not only a woman’s issue. This law can spearhead a 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. But there’s a danger it could stall 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.

Steve Oversby

Director for Barnardo’s in the East region