Equal Opportunities Commission welcomes extension of family-friendly policies

Patricia
Hewitt’s plans for introducing further changes to employment rights are good
news for the UK’s
working families, Julie Mellor, chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission
(EOC), said today.

But
she urged the Labour Party to do more by building on these specific ideas to
create a comprehensive national family strategy.

Hewitt
has said that she intends to extend maternity leave, give increased rights to
carers and raise the level of paternity pay,
a move which business says will put unreasonable strain on companies.

Mellor
said: "Increasing paternity pay so that fathers receive 90 per cent of
their earnings will give more fathers the opportunity to take leave around the
time of the birth of their new baby. Early evidence suggests fathers are using
paid holiday rather than taking parental leave at £102 a week.

"We
also welcome the idea of giving parents more choice about how to share the
responsibility for looking after a baby and earning family income in the first
year.

Mellor
said the proposal to open up some of the current maternity leave to fathers
would not do that unless both parents were paid 90 per cent of their salary.

"As
fathers often earn more than their partners, families cannot afford to
sacrifice their income," she said.

Parents
and carers make up 17 million voters in the UK.
Nearly 40 per cent of employees have dependant children and, at any given time,
one in seven of the UK
workforce is juggling paid work with someone who is ill, frail or has a disability.

By Quentin Reade

 

 

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