Bank to offer paternity leave

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The Independent Online
The Co-operative Bank, based in Manchester, is to offer its male staff up to three months' unpaid paternity leave despite opposition to the measure from the Government.

Michael Portillo, Secretary of State for Employment, blocked a European directive this week which would have forced employers to allow such leave because of the extra costs to industry. But the Co-operative, which already gives fathers five days' paid leave, said that it wanted to move into line with the European legislation.

The managing director, Terry Thomas, said: 'In the future when we come to determining appropriate conditions of employment for staff we will be looking more to European co-operative banks than to our rivals in this country.'

Greville Janner, Labour MP for Leicester West and chairman of the Commons Employment Select Committee, said yesterday that Mr Portillo's opt-out on paternity leave would 'help destroy family life'. He said he would seek to introduce a backbench Bill when Parliament resumes to bring Britain back into line.