The government must let parents decide for themselves who looks after their children, the Equal Opportunities Commission said today.
As the government prepares to announce a new Bill on Work and Families later this month, the EOC is calling for shared parental leave.
New fathers currently receive just two weeks statutory leave, compared with 52 weeks for mothers, giving the UK the most unequal parenting arrangements in Europe.
Many European countries, including Sweden, Germany and France, allow leave to be divided between parents as they wish.
Nearly 80% of new mothers questioned by the EOC support the option of transferring some of their maternity leave to their partner, and more than 80% of fathers back this policy.
Jenny Watson, acting chair of the EOC, said: “The government has talked a lot about supporting hard-working families and enabling fathers to be more involved with their children has to be part of this agenda.
“Giving fairer leave rights to dads can only be achieved through shared parental leave. We hope that the government uses the opportunity of new legislation later this month to help families decide for themselves who’ll be holding the baby.”
For reaction to the EOC’s proposals see tomorrow’s Personnel Today magazine.