TANSTAAFL

There Ain\’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

Fathers and mothers will both be able to take more than six months paid leave together after having a baby, under radical Conservative plans to make the party appear more family friendly.

Whether this is a good thing or not is really rather for others to decide: I\’m not going to be taking paternity (or maternity) leave anytime soon nor do I employ anyone who might. But I would note that one effect is likely to be on the gender pay gap. As regular readers will know, I\’m convinced that the majority of it (if not all) is in fact a childcare pay gap, or a motherhood one.

Equalizing paternity and maternity leave is likely to close that gap then, as it\’s both the expense to employers and the degradation of human capital caused by the career breaks which causes the pay gap.

However, this free lunch thing. The pay gap will simply reappear as one between those with children and those without.

As, in fact, it already makes itself apparent amongst women. Never married childless women in their 40s do not suffer a gender pay gap at all.

I have to admit to a sneaking feeling that this is actually something of a good thing as well: those who have children, whether male or femlae, should be those who bear the economic costs of having children. Yes, the leave costs businesses money, but wages, as we see currently, adjust to that cost.

To allow the mother to recover from childbirth and form a strong bond with the child, the first 14 weeks of the entitlement would apply only to her.

That\’s very weird though. Why enforce leave upon someone?

9 comments on “TANSTAAFL

  1. Mrs S-E used to work at a college. Young Master S-E was born in July. Therefore maternity leave coincided with the summer break. (This was not actually planned.)

    On returning to work in the early autumn (aka the summer for those in warmer climes), she was told by HR that she shouldn’t have returned – the two types of time off couldn’t be taken in parallel. After some discussion about how unfair it would be to both students and lecturers to have her parachuted in after (IIRC) 6 weeks, there was a pleasant compromise.

    We got pay in lieu of leave – wonderful. Local government sense for you.

  2. “those who have children, whether male or femlae, should be those who bear the economic costs of having children.”

    Absolutely. Isn’t is odd, then, that the exact opposite happens; have a child, get a regular weekly cash payment plus tax breaks.

  3. As Jo said over on Liberal Conspiracy, though, the economy does actually need people to have children. If no-one chose to have children, we’d be pretty screwed. Surely there’s an argument that those who have children are doing the rest of us a favour because it means we don’t have to take time off to have children, and therefore we should compensate those people?

  4. “The pay gap will simply reappear as one between those with children and those without.”
    Surely those who already have children (and intend to have no more) will be not be affected, after all the maternity/paternity leave affects those who will have children going forward. Those who have already had them are a sunk cost. The gap will between those who don’t intend to have children, and those who do intend to have children. (Or at least those an emplyer thinks will and thinks won’t). Perhaps we will see a sexuality pay gap with gay people on average able to earn more than straight people.

    Tim adds: Lesbians do earn more than hetero women. So, yes, I agree that the sexuality pay gap already exists.

  5. “As Jo said over on Liberal Conspiracy, though, the economy does actually need people to have children. ”
    That is no reason to have employers subsidise them though.

    “If no-one chose to have children, we’d be pretty screwed. ”
    I am pretty sure people have been having children for quite a long time, even without being bribed to do so.

    “Surely there’s an argument that those who have children are doing the rest of us a favour because it means we don’t have to take time off to have children, and therefore we should compensate those people?”
    Yes, a very self serving argument. I do not think people have children because they think they owe it to the race. Most of them are obeying a biological imperative. Furthermore, it is their genes that are being propogated, not mine. Why should I pay for that!

  6. “As Jo said over on Liberal Conspiracy, though, the economy does actually need people to have children…”

    Not necessarily. The economy needs people of working age.

    What if we completely stopped incentivizing people to have children, and at the same time dramatically eased curbs on immigration?

  7. “those who have children, whether male or femlae, should be those who bear the economic costs of having children.”

    So we agree that when you’re a wrinkled, sick, old, wreck, and broke, you won’t ask my kids for any tax funded benefits. Good.

    Tim adds: “when you’re a wrinkled, sick, old, wreck, and broke,”….you’ll note that I indeed did not ask them yesterday….

  8. “So we agree that when you’re a wrinkled, sick, old, wreck, and broke, you won’t ask my kids for any tax funded benefits. Good.”

    If you don’t ask me to subsidise your family I won’t ask your family to pay back the money when I’m old. How about that for a deal?

  9. “If you don’t ask me to subsidise your family I won’t ask your family to pay back the money when I’m old. How about that for a deal?”

    Problem is, the deal is already written the other way. All of our “Social Benefits” are underfunded and my kids are going to be stuck with the bill. The very roads we drive on are being paid for with promissory notes from my kids.

    So, Tim and Cuthhyra, you may not want money from my kids, but you are right this very instant taking it.

    How to change this?

    On the other hand, maybe my kids can stick their own kids with the bills. Hmmm, maybe this has merit. Permanent inter – generational jihad. Might give the lazy little buggers some incentive.

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