Fair treatment for fathers could end ‘motherhood penalty’

Editor’s Blog Posted 22/03/16
Closing the parity gap would be an easier task if dads had more options

In the wake of the Women and Equalities Select Committee’s report on the gender pay gap, the committee’s chairwoman has called for action to address the 19% wage discrepancy between men and women.

The fact that this figure has gone neither up or down in the last four years suggests that the issue has been noticed and some sort of brake applied, but we’ve yet to hit reverse gear.

Working Families, a charity that helps people find the right work-life balance, has described this chasm as the “motherhood penalty”, inferring that women who have children face an uphill struggle to regain their place in industry. The charity’s chief executive Sarah Jackson said: “The answer lies with fathers. A decent period of paid paternity leave would allow more fathers to care for their young children and push this out of the domain of ‘women’s work’ for good.”

There is certainly logic to this argument. When women announce a pregnancy, it is generally taken for granted that they will take lengthy maternity leave of up to a year, whereas men are expected to do little more than take a couple of weeks off. There is no suggestion that this is down to a lack of willingness on their part, but although there are now greater options for taking Shared Parental Leave and we have seen a rise in the number of stay-at-home dads, raising children is still widely considered to be the responsibility of females.

We’d like to hear from business owners on this issue - would you welcome equal opportunities for new parents of both genders? Would it make life easier for employers or more of a headache? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below or emailing newsdesk@southeastbusiness.com

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