The government has been urged to scrap ‘flawed’ plans that enable fathers to take up unused maternity leave.
The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has recorded a growing discontent with the current paternity system, and claims that new plans announced in the Work and Families Bill, while well-intentioned, are destined to fail working fathers. This is because not enough men will benefit from the arrangements, as they will be too complex for many employers to implement.
The charity said the changes would make it more difficult for parents to take time off together and called for longer and better-paid periods of paternity leave, which could be taken more flexibly.
It also claims that employers are enforcing the current system too rigidly, with many fathers denied their right to two weeks’ paid leave because they haven’t provided 15 weeks’ notice.
David Harker, chief executive of CAB, said the notice period – eight times longer than that usually needed for holidays – was inappropriate, while only four in 10 fathers would benefit from the new rules.
“The government should abandon its well-intentioned but flawed plans on paternity leave and consider instead how it might best enhance the individual rights of working men to take time off work to be with and care for their children at a time of their choosing,” he said.
Manufacturing organisation the EEF said the proposals did not meet the ‘better regulation test’ and would make flexible working more difficult for employers to manage.
Mike Emmett, adviser on employee relations at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), backed the current proposals, but conceded that the notice period was too long and that money was a key issue.
“The amount of money on offer is too small and many fathers can’t afford to take paternity leave,” he said. “Many concerns are around technical issues, but the DTI should be able to iron these out before the legislation comes into force.”