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At last: hope for working dads

I was delighted to learn that a Commons Select Committee report has made several recommendations that could benefit working dads

Published this month, the report by the Women and Equalities Committee concludes that workplace policies are failing dads.

In addition, it proposes a number of changes that, if put into practice, could significantly increase the likelihood of more fathers taking up active roles in caring for their children.

Among the recommendations is a rise in statutory paternity pay that would amount to 90% of fathers’ pay.

Other suggestions include the introduction of 12 weeks’ standalone father’s leave as an alternative to shared parental leave.

There’s also a call to advertise all jobs as flexible unless there are firm business reasons not to.

Finally, it is suggested that all of these rights are extended to dads who are agency workers or self-employed.

The report also calls out outdated attitudes towards parents of both genders and points out that the suggested changes could help towards closing the gender pay gap.

This is all music to my ears. It’s about time that working dads are acknowledged as wanting to play a part in the upbringing of their children.

One of the reasons I left my last job to go self-employed was that my youngest child was on the way and I knew my employer wouldn’t provide the flexibility I wanted and, indeed, needed.

Obviously, it has all come too late for me, but I’m really pleased. Both that the issue has been discussed at such a prominent level and that it suggests realistic measures that would be more accessible to more dads.

To recap on a couple of points that I’ve made in previous posts, shared parental leave is only open to a relatively small number of families.

Statutory paternity pay, meanwhile, is so low that it’s just not cost-effective for low-income families. Indeed, I know a number of dads who have taken two weeks’ annual leave instead.

The minor changes to workplace legislation in the last few years have been token offerings at best.

This is why these new proposals give me real hope. If these changes are made, I can see a huge number of working dads being able to spend more time with their young families.

Whether they will actually amount to anything remains to be seen. That said, I’m cautiously optimistic that it could bring about some much-needed cultural change.

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