As I’ve said before, I’m responsible for this

New parents will also be able to divide their time off into as many extended breaks as they want as long as their employers agree, after a Coalition tussle over the plans.

The reforms will also extend parents’ existing right to request flexible working to all employees in an attempt to reflect the increased role of grandparents and other carers in looking after their grandchildren.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, said the changes would help to stop women feeling they have to choose between having a career or a baby.

The Government is publishing the final details of a significant shake-up which will cater for a growing desire by men to play a more hands-on role in a baby’s first year.

The traditional 52 weeks of maternity leave, other than the first fortnight for a new mother’s recovery, will be able to be shared between the parents from April 2015.

Not exactly the solution that I would have chosen myself but there we go.

And the responsibility comes from something I did over at the ASI (and here as well). My insistence that we don’t in fact have a gender pay gap while we do indeed have a motherhood pay gap. That being caused by career breaks to have and raise the babbies. This convinced a Lib Dem activist, who saw that shared parental leave would, while not entirely, at least partially spread the effect of those career breaks to fathers as well as mothers. Thus making a parents pay gap not a mothers pay gap. Which they see as rather fairer.

That’s gone up the Lib Dem policy making system and so there’s the announcement from Cleggy.

From small acorns great oak trees grow etc.

My preferred solution to the perceived problem would be to just shrug and accept it.

26 thoughts on “As I’ve said before, I’m responsible for this”

  1. *waves*

    And I actually got around to rejoining after a year outside the party last week, and Jennie got elected Chair of the local party.

    I wanted to solve the problem you identified, but it also helps in a lot of other ways—as the primary childcare provider in our household for a fair few years now it always annoyed me that women were almost expected to take time off but if a man did so he was a slacker or similar by default.

    I mean, I am a lazy bastard, but I also enjoy working with and spending time with kids, as do a fair few other men I know, now we can get the same parental rights as women in another area.

  2. An interesting and likely outcome of course is going to be that this is going to further disincentivise men from marriage, which the mumsyfems are already complaining about (men aren’t “manning up” and “doing their duty” and “taking responsibility” and all that).

    Why? Well, the man who approaches marriage rationally now has to not only contemplate the risk of ruinous expropriation via divorce proceedings- which is a matter of probabilities and risk assessment, somewhat blunted by idealistic optimism- but also the career costs of being forced to take time out of his career by said potential wife, to serve her in the home when she is sprogging (some few years before the subsequent ruinous divorce). Thus, husband-man has a double whammy now of not only paying for wife and child services without the benefits of wife and child, but having a lower income out of which to do so, due to his retarded career.

    Even without the divorce, it actually means Mumsnet Woman now has a less wealthy husband to keep her in the style to which she is accustomed. I wonder if they’ve thought this through.

  3. “Thus making a parents pay gap not a mothers pay gap.”
    Did you have to write that?
    You do realise, when Pol starts whinging about “parental pay gaps”, you’ll be responsible.
    Should be ashamed of yourself.

  4. Or, the next thing will be Pol complaining that men aren’t taking their entitlement, forcing women to stay home with sprogs, lose career prospects, etc etc. Whatever the outcome, it’ll be grist for the mill.

  5. Owain Shave (@OwainShave)

    This is a sensible reform, and a positive development. Congratulations to all those involved in driving this change.

  6. And so what must be a secret plan to reduce direct employment opportunities for anyone below 40-ish continues apace.

    Well done all!

  7. So Much For Subtlety

    The main problem with this is that it is the thin edge of the wedge. The next step is to *require* men to take time off. As I believe they do in Norway and Sweden.

    There is no point giving little authoritarian sh!t any ideas. They will only twist them to their petty authoritarian sh!tty ends. And, really, is there any chance the LibDems are not virtually all little authoritarian sh!ts? Not in a good way either.

  8. What I’d like to know is this; In the name of all this equality stuff; if your bag – rather than spawning squalling, dribbling little bundles of infectious diseases – is to surf. Does one’s “rights” include the entitlement to piss off & explore the world’s best breaks for 6 months, every time you get the urge, Without harming you career prospects. And if not why not?

  9. As I said in the earlier thread, and PaulB’s bullshit about HMRC sorting it all out after the event notwithstanding, how do these employers talk to one another? HR departments are spectacularly useless in managing their own simple tasks, and now we’re asking them to coordinate leave allocations with potentially dozens of other companies with which they share no relationship. Or are we expecting the average British worker to 1) figure out the entitlement split and 2) not try to game the system?

  10. Will HR department demand DNA testing of all babies to provide proof of paternity? What happens if the mother refuses?

  11. Tim>

    “My preferred solution to the perceived problem would be to just shrug and accept it.”

    Why? If, as I think we’d accept, the lower pay of post-baby mothers/parents is justified by their lower value (thanks to time out) shouldn’t we be concerned about reducing the amount of lost value?

  12. Excellent. As a subcontractor with no employment rights, that’s more work for me then. Should also help starve the supply of new young men coming into the industry.

  13. @MatGB, your primary mistake is to think that you have parental rights.

    You do not.

    A right is not a right if the only way you can have it is for someone else to pay/work/contribute for it. So you deciding to have a child, with all the consequences that it entails, does not give you any right, enforceable by law. That is just bullying.

    Then again, you’re a libdim so I assume that other people’s money and time is none of your concern as long as you can spend it.

    It is amazing that someone who describes himself as a “primary childcare provider” is even taken seriously.

  14. We already have “Additional Paternity Leave” which is available only if the mother gives up some of her leave entitlement. And the way it works does not require the mother’s and father’s employers to co-ordinate over the joint entitlement.

  15. We already have “Additional Paternity Leave” which is available only if the mother gives up some of her leave entitlement. And the way it works does not require the mother’s and father’s employers to co-ordinate over the joint entitlement.

    The we go onto the Additional Paternity Pay and Leave: employer guide:

    Proof you can ask for
    You can ask for:

    proof of the birth or adoption – eg a birth certificate or letter from the adoption agency
    the contact details of their partner’s employer – eg to check when their partner’s maternity pay ends

    Which is odd, because we had some twat on here a few weeks back claiming HMRC would make any such communication unnecessary.

  16. @ Tim Newman

    I can’t disagree for a moment about ‘most HR depts’, but pregnancy is infrequent enough that there should be no great logistical impediment to muddling through this adequately enough.

    Outside of the limited period where people get occupational pay for the leave, we shouldn’t be too worried about people gaming the system. So what if mum and dad take more of their allotted time? It’s no more inconvenient than if they both take the right amount of time.

    I can understand people who take issue with ma/paternity leave wholesale. And as someone with no intention of breeding I echo bis’ query.. why should I not have the right to fuck off for a year too? But if we’re to have rights for breeders, then they should apply equally to both partners. Better to be a bit shit, than be a bit shit and a bit sexist.

    I do, however, share the fear that if the ‘gender’ pay gap hasn’t been eliminated by next Thursday then they’ll come up with something more appropriately coercive.

  17. So what if mum and dad take more of their allotted time? It’s no more inconvenient than if they both take the right amount of time

    In my experience, the issue isn’t with the payment of people on leave, it’s the business continuity. If you have people claiming leave entitlements, these entitlements need to be obvious or easy to verify. I know very few managers who would take every employee at their word that they and their partner have figured out the legislation and informed their respective employers accordingly such that he is entitled to take three weeks off in summer, for example – especially if there is some thing pretty crucial going on then.

  18. Of course, to make it really fair in economic terms (that is, everyone has the same employment disability) you could just give everyone the same entitlement to time off regardless of the reason. It might be to have a baby, it might be to go windsurfing. Those who don’t have baby opportuinites still get the time off, and everyone is the same employment risk to employers.

  19. So Much for Subtlety

    Ian B – “Of course, to make it really fair in economic terms (that is, everyone has the same employment disability) you could just give everyone the same entitlement to time off regardless of the reason.”

    I agree. But there is another way that is really fair in economic terms and makes sure everyone has the same entitlement – the government can stay the f**k out of people’s private decisions. There is no case for government action here.

    If someone wants to take six months off, fine. They can (and rarely, do) ask their employer. A sensible employer will keep a valuable employee. Otherwise they can find another job when they come back.

  20. A father wanting to take more leave than he’s entitled to would have to persuade the mother to make a dishonest declaration of what leave she intended to take. The upside for him would be that he’d get a few low-paid weeks off work. The downside would be that if HMRC, which is paying for the leave, does a simple cross-check on what the mother and father have taken, he will be fined, possibly prosecuted, and probably sacked. That doesn’t strike me as an attractive proposition.

    Fraud aside, this proposal, like any other employee right, imposes a burden on employers and so indirectly, on all of us. The question is whether the benefits exceed the cost. In this case, there’s a benefit that it will encourage the father rather than the mother to take leave when he’s lower paid than she is. Assuming that higher-paid work is more valuable, that would be a good thing.

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