Shared Parental Leave – could a ‘fathers quota’ close the Gender Pay Gap?

Debs and Clair from HDYDI recently attended ‘Shared Parental Leave, work and family life: Where should we go from here?’ hosted by Working Families, the Fatherhood Institute and the University of Manchester. Bringing together policy makers, charitable organisations, employers and academics it was a lively forum for sharing findings in the latest research as well as experiences of the issues from a broad range of perspectives.

The insights of progress and pitfalls from Norway gave powerful evidence to support the introduction of a ‘fathers quota’ which is taken by 90% of fathers – something the government in the UK have reviewed and continue to debate. Adrienne Burgess, the Fatherhood Institute, was able to support the emotional and financial value of this, with research findings demonstrating the long term benefits for fathers, their children, as well as wider society. Notably, when fathers take extended leave research finds:

  • More highly qualified women stay in the workforce, increasing national productivity
  • The incidence of family breakdown reduces
  • Fathers caring for their children in the first year sets a pattern of continued involvement in childcare

Iceland are specifically looking at their parental leave policy as a contributing factor to eliminate the gender pay gap.

Drs Emma Banister and Ben Kerrane detailed their project into fathers’ experience of Shared Parental Leave and whether they decided to take it or not. This backs up what HDYDI hear from our clients i.e.

  • A lack of awareness of the offer of parental leave
  • A need to train and educate managers supporting working fathers (to broaden the focus from just working mothers)

They have put together informative video casebooks for employers and employees as their research continues.

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