The problem with this is what?

The notion of “new age fathers” sharing responsibility for childcare is still far from reality in many professions according to a study showing most do not even take their full paternity leave.

People choosing among the options available to them according to their own estimations of their own interest.

This is a problem because?

17 thoughts on “The problem with this is what?”

  1. Oh for goodness sake! You are entirely free to choose all the things that are good for you. (Why is my finger wagging uncontrollably?)

  2. Yep, free choice and more choice for you sonny, our political leaders always make sure we have a choice, so long as it conforms to the politician’s provisos – whether you want it, can afford it, or – not.

    That’s working democracy in Britain.

  3. Surely it’s a problem because there isn’t equal maternity/paternity leave (yet)? Creates the expectation that women should take time off with their children rather than men, hence far more women leave work/scale down their hours after having children than men. Choice is only valid if the choice is equal, after all.

  4. Choice is equal. Have met families where the husband stays home with the kids while the wife, the higher earner, goes out to work every day. Choice of each family is down to them, no one size fits all.

  5. Martin Davies – your example only works where the family can afford for one parent not to work at all (which is not what the article is talking about and which doesn’t actually apply to many people).

    When both parents need to stay in work but men can only take two weeks off as parental leave, how can anyone say that is equal? I can’t think of any job where taking 6-12 months off doesn’t harm your chances of being successful, but if both parents are in work our current maternity/paternity system dooms the woman to that “choice”. If mothers and fathers could divide parental leave (up to 12 months) as they saw fit between them, there would be an equal choice. Until then, mothers will continue to scale back their hours and leave their jobs in a much higher proportion and noone should be surprised by that.

  6. Emil

    Also, your comment doesn’t add to or detract from what I’ve said. Parents could split their 12 months 50/50, 6 months of mum at home breastfeeding baby, then 6 months of dad at home.

  7. Over 18% of working men are self-employed (2.9m v 1.25m women). There are getting on for a million small businesses, most of whom cannot afford to give their key workers six months paternity leave.
    “new age fathers” belong in jobs where, if they are missed at all, someone can cover for them almost indefinitely, e.g. journalism. New fathers in proper jobs have to do a day’s work and then help out at home.

  8. john77 – I think that is the point – their “key” workers should not only be men but also women! Having a child shouldn’t automatically mean a woman’s career is destroyed in the majority of cases. Besides, your situation will also be covered by 12 month flexible parental leave – surely it would be easier for employers to stomach if parents took months (or quarters) off in turns, rather than female employees being forced to take it all in one lump?

    Should mothers also only work in jobs where people can cover for them almost indefinitely? As that seems fairly preposterous. There are very few job roles where people are truly irreplaceable.

    Mothers in proper jobs also have to do a day’s work and then help out at home, not sure what your point is there (and the statistics show that women still do a disproportionate amount of childcare and housework).

    At the bottom line, it’s bad for the economy and hugely unfair to exclude women from the workplace in the way that we do, both in terms of legal rights and social attitudes. That’s the problem.

  9. @ TaxRanter
    Would you care to imagine what happens to a business if it cannot complete a single job for six months? How long will it take before prospective customers stop asking? How many will come back after they have forced to hunt out an alternative? How many experts would take a six-month temporary position to replace someone on paternity leave?
    It’s all very well saying the employer must keep the job open for the woman on her return from maternity leave but that rather takes for granted the survival of the firm. If she *really* is a key worker then hiring a temp to cover for six months won’t work.
    I am not trying to exclude women from the workplace: I am pointing out that sometimes men care about there being a job to go back to when considering how much leave to take.

  10. john77
    Women care about there being a job to go back to also, or had you not considered that? Frankly, it is not reasonable to argue that in all those firms people are doing such complex and important jobs that there can be no possible temporary replacement. That’s simply not true in most cases – small firms find adequate maternity cover all the time. I find it hard to believe that small businesses will fold by the thousands because a man OR a woman takes parental leave. How many jobs are there where only one available person in the region can perform the tasks required? It’s certainly not the case of most middle management jobs, which are the bulk of what you’re talking about. As for self-employment, that is a different matter altogether in terms of maternity and paternity leave.

  11. @ TaxRanter
    Go back and read my first post.
    There is no one else in my firm who could do my job – and I couldn’t replace most of the others. There are people out there who could replace me but they have all got jobs already. Last time I ‘phoned up an acquaintance and asked if he could do a job I had been asked to do but couldn’t because it clashed with one I had already agrred to do, so would involve being in two different countries simultaneously, he said he only accepted offers at £1,000 a day or more.
    You seem to be postulating that you can ring up the JobCentre and hire a temp for six months to replace someone with twenty years experience and specialist knowledge.
    I am *not* talking about middle management partly because they do not even exist in small firms. Kindly do *not* tell me what I am talking about if you cannot understand anything as simple as that. I *am* talking about any specialist whose skill set is not fully duplicated within the aggregate skill sets of his colleagues. So I *do* include the 2.9m self-employed, as does the Telegraph so when it says 6 out of 10 it means half of employees.
    “Women care about there being a job to go back to also, or had you not considered that?” Firstly, not all of them do – some have no intention of going back to work after their maternity leave – and secondly they are guaranteed their job back unless the firm goes bust.

  12. John,

    Your points are all arguments against parental leave in general, not against equalising paternity leave with maternity leave.

    While I agree with your fears, we’re already here as far as women are concerned. Preventing parity between the sexes for parental leave because men do more important jobs is ridiculous and self-perpetuating.

    The biggest issue with extending parental leave is that you are taking the obligation to fund these months of child care from a single employer and asking two different employers to sort it out between them. I’m not sure how that would work.

    A related concern would be the parents getting double time off – one chunk from each employer.

  13. My but your leaders have got you all jumping through hoops.
    Being a father these days seems best left to the welfare layaboiuts or the new imported family makers.
    This frenzy for every one to ‘have a career’ really is a society destroyer.

  14. @john77
    Are you really trying to tell me that as not all women want to go back to work after having a baby, we shouldn’t make it easier for all women to do? Really? Because in that case you are a clueless misogynist. Newsflash: not all men want to go back to work after having children either! That doesn’t mean we should make it more difficult for men by forcing them to take all the parental leave and forcing women to return to work. Your point that women have a job to go back to after maternity leave is meaningless, as men will too once parity of parental leave is implemented.

    Kindly do *not* tell me every small firm in the UK would be on its knees if men took parental leave as well as women, because it is simply not true. You are *not* talking about self-employed people – or you shouldn’t be – because the statutory parental leave regime is completely different. I am not talking about hiring a temp from the JobCentre or hiring someone internal (though it amuses me to think that you think that noone else in your firm could do your job: I struggle to believe that), I am talking about advertising and hiring a replacement, just as small firms do every day when women go on maternity leave. If we open up the job market to women properly, there will be even more applicants waiting to replace men when they take their parental leave.

    You are an astounding example of why women are still struggling with the glass ceiling. Tim’s post asks what the problem is with men not sharing childcare: the answer is that it prevents women having meaningful careers because they are forced to pick up the slack. Your responses show that you are quite happy with that outcome.

  15. @ TaxRanter
    Ranter is the right name.
    I was explaining why not all men took the full paternity leave.
    Some of them care whether there would a job to go back to.
    How many times do I have to repeat myself?
    Why do you persist in claiming I have said something completely different? Just because you cannot find anything wrong with what I actually said so you need to pretend I said something else with which you can find fault?
    “I am talking about advertising and hiring a replacement just as small firms do every day when women go on maternity leave.” You are ignoring ” There are people out there who could replace me but they have all got jobs already.”
    Where have I suggested that I do not want to make it easy for women to return to work *if they want to*? I merely pointed out that you were making an unjustified sweeping assumption.
    Why on earth are you amused by the idea that no-one else in the firm could do my job? Why do you think we should have two people with the same skills? What would be the point? Or is that just a failed attempt at a cheap sneer?
    Your claim that all men would have a job to go back to if parity of paternity leave is implemented is just like New Labour’s claim that no-one would be made redundant due to the National Minimum Wage – the British textile industry employed 390,000 in 1996, three-quarters *have* been made redundant as the companies went out of business.

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