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Nick Clegg is encouraging businesses to do more to support family friendly working as several major employers announce paternity packages for their staff.
It comes as the results of a major Mumsnet survey has revealed that 39% of dads have had to use their paid annual leave just to get time off after their child was born and 80% of parents said they would have preferred the father to take a longer period of paternity leave.
Just last month, in a move to offer more support to working parents, the Deputy Prime Minister urged private companies to follow the lead of the public sector in its plans to give equalised occupational pay to all civil servants, affording working fathers the same kinds of benefits as mothers when they take leave after their child is born.
In response to that call, Deloitte, PWC and Shell, who between them employ nearly 100,000 people in the UK, have announced today that they’ll be offering enhanced paternity packages to all their employees.
The Deputy Prime Minister is a hosting a unique forum with the CBI, Mumsnet and large employers this morning to discuss how businesses can boost their family-friendly offer and retain talented parents in the workforce.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:
I’m delighted that Deloitte, PWC and Shell are taking positive steps in modernising the workplace by providing flexible working arrangements for hardworking parents.
It is bizarre that even in the 21st century, hundreds and thousands of employees are still restricted by Edwardian rules when it comes to juggling their work and family lives.
We need a modern Britain that works for modern families, not against them. I’ve fought hard in government to bring about that change whether it’s through the introduction of flexible working, free childcare, shared parental leave or equalising paternity pay so that men can spend more time with their newborn child without being penalised financially.
So, I’m calling on employers to set an example when it comes to offering flexible working arrangements so that working parents are empowered to make their own decisions in their own time. We know this boosts productivity, loyalty and retention of staff in the workplace so this is not just about common sense it makes financial sense too.
Helping hard-working families
In government, the Deputy Prime Minister has committed to a series of changes to help hard-working families.
the introduction of Shared Parental Leave (from April 2015) to enable mums and dads to share the leave entitlement in the first year their child is born
legislation in June 2014 to give over 20 million people the legal right to request flexible working after 26 weeks employment – twice the number of people previously eligible
an extension of free childcare places provision - from September 2014, 40% of 2-year-olds from the lowest income families are now eligible for free childcare places. This builds on the separate offer of 15 free hours a week already available to all 3 and 4 year olds.
Tonight, the Deputy Prime Minister will be hosting a reception in partnership with Mumsnet Awards to celebrate companies who are blazing a trail in implementing family friendly working.
Justine Roberts, Mumsnet Founder and CEO, said:
It’s good to see the importance of fathers in babies’ lives being recognised but in practice, we’re not yet getting basic paternity leave right.
It ought to enable dads to spend time with their new babies, but because of the woefully low rate at which it’s paid, they’re forced to take annual leave or miss out altogether.
The companies we work with through our Family Friendly programme reap real rewards by supporting employees in their family lives. It would be great if this became the norm, not the exception.
Emma Codd, managing partner for talent at Deloitte UK, said:
At Deloitte, we have made the support for our working parents a firm-wide priority and we’re pleased to see the Deputy Prime Minister’s call to action, encouraging other businesses do the same. The potential positive impact of the changes that the government is introducing is significant for working families across the UK.
At Deloitte our plan to introduce enhanced shared parental leave is just one part of a much bigger picture of practical support that we provide to our people to ensure that they are able to find the right career/life balance. What is clear to us, however, is that any practical support must be accompanied by a cultural shift, and we have worked hard to ensure that the ability to successfully balance career and life is an accepted part of the way we work.
Introducing new approaches and policies is not just a ‘good thing to do’ for our people; it is a business imperative. We believe that we will only attract and retain the best people if we can provide a career experience that enables them to achieve the valuable balance between family and a meaningful career.
Brie Rogers Lowery of change.org said:
The world of work is changing and the concept of family is evolving, and we wanted a parental leave policy that reflects that.
We believe that equalising parental leave makes for happier parents and children, and therefore is better for business. We’d love to see businesses across the UK take up the challenge.