Stay-at-home parents

The government’s “children’s tsar” in Scotland has called for extra money for single mothers who would rather stay at home with their children than go back to work.

Kathleen Marshall, Scottish Commissioner for Children, said that for “single mothers of young children, there should be the option of being supported at home by the state if need be, rather than them going back to work”.

Her comments come a day after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, warned of a “crisis” in modern childhood caused by a “relentless pressure to achieve” at school and greater pressures on parents at work.

Williams said that flexible working is “very often∆ípresented or understood primarily just in terms of getting women back to the workplace”.

Marshall told the Scotsman newspaper there was “a very serious question to be addressed about how much we are squeezing out of their lives in terms of real, valuable contact with adults”.

“The time parents have to spend with their children is becoming ever smaller because of work,” she said. “And as for single mothers of young children, there should be the option of being supported at home by the state if need be, rather than them going back to work.”

The UK government is working hard to ensure flexible working is available to as many people as possible.

The forthcoming Work and Families Act will extend flexible working rights to carers of adults while working mothers will benefit from nine months’ statutory maternity pay and fathers from extended paternity leave.

The new laws also see the introduction of ‘keeping in touch’ days so that where employees and employers agree, a women on maternity leave can go into work for a few days, without losing her right to maternity leave or a week’s statutory pay.

In a recent report by law firm Browne Jacobson, a survey of 220 UK company directors found that 82% oppose forthcoming legislation to extend paid maternity leave. Three-quarters (75%) of company directors believe the new law will discourage employers from hiring women of child-bearing age.

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