Push dads to share the baby burden

Without extra pressure, how many will risk screwing up their careers?

Related Topics

It’s a painful process, childbirth: but it isn’t half as agonising as watching the Government tinker around with our “outdated Edwardian parental leave laws” – to quote our deputy PM.

Nick Clegg must be feeling pretty chuffed he’s finally got the green light to announce that mums and dads can split their time off but remember this was a process that started in 2003 with the right to two weeks’ leave for new fathers. And it doesn’t even kick in until April 2015.

But if he thinks I’m equally thrilled well, sorry, but I’ve got some bad news. Didn’t he see the recent TUC survey showing that fewer than 1 per cent of dads are stepping in to fill the void if mums choose to go back after 26 weeks (an option the Government introduced in April 2011)?

If Mr Clegg really wants to end the sort of workplace discrimination that makes women over 35 a rarity, he needs to coerce dads into doing their bit. The Swedes have a “use-it-or-lose-it” approach that means fathers lose two of the potential 14 months on offer to them if they don’t take it. (The same two-month rule applies to mums.)

The upshot is Swedish bosses have the “same risk” of their female and male employees needing some time off, which has obvious repercussions when they are thinking of hiring or promoting someone as the (female) head of a Swedish kidswear brand once told me. Bottom line: in Sweden it’s “accepted to prioritise to be with your family because most employers are very open-minded and flexible,” she added.

But this isn’t even all about the mums. Without a little extra pressure, how many dads are going to risk screwing up their career for the sake of a few months at home with a small baby? Because let’s be blunt, that’s what they’ll worry will happen. With good reason, many of my female friends might add.

Yet how many dads feel hurt when their little ones run a mile when they try to help with bath time or read them a story on the rare night they have made it home. And again, let’s be honest. 

Giving fathers the legislative balls to stay at home can only be good for their children, their home life, and yes, their partners, who need help to stop British bosses thinking of childcare as women’s work. 

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mosul falls: Talk of Iraq retaking the town, held by IS since June, is unconvincing  

Isis on the run? The US portrayal is very far from the truth

Patrick Cockburn
John Rentoul met Ed Miliband aged 23, remarking he was “bright, and put up a good fight for the utilities tax, but I was unconvinced.”  

General Election 2015: Win or lose, Ed Miliband is not ready to govern

John Rentoul
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk