Why I'm Not So Sure about Shared Parental Leave

I'm in a slightly philosophical mood today, so I'll have to quell my excitement over Christmas and leave that blog until later... Before then I'd like to discuss Shared Parental Leave



Operation Christmas is on hold for now

To be honest, that will please some members of my family (husband), who are resisting the yule tide spirit and refusing to acknowledge that Christmas is only a few weeks away.

Rather than succumbing to his mood, I've swung into Operation Christmas, piping constant carols through the house at all hours and spritzing his pillow with the smell of cinnamon and cloves. By next week, I hope my plan will have worked and he'll let me buy a tree.

Is Shared Parental Leave a good thing?

So back to being philosophical. There have been many stories in the news that have grabbed my attention. Parental leave being one of them. I find this concept a tough one.

On the one hand, I praise the government for acknowledging the role of the father in a young baby's life, whilst at the same time recognising the importance of the working woman. But on the other hand, I just don't see that it's going to be a game changer.

As has been pointed out in numerous articles on Shared Parental Leave, in most households the man earns more, which makes it difficult for them to take such a pay cut. Men are built differently, so the lack of the obvious attributes - particularly when research goes on about "breast being best" - would put off many mums from handing over the reins. I know we live in a world of breast pumps, but unless you're hooked up to an industrial milking machine for a good couple of hours, what is produced barely feeds a sparrow.

It's also such a precious time for a mum. If your work can take a back seat for a time then let it, as you won't get that opportunity again to spend time with your baby. And, as we all know, they grow up fast. I'm not saying men shouldn't have this opportunity too, but I think men are wired to respond to children when they start interacting, and not when they are at the crying, sleeping, pooing stage.

Is there an alternative to Shared Parental Leave?

So my idea is to keep maternity leave for mothers, but offer a year to the dads when the kid is 3 years or older. That's a great time to be involved and, from experience, I know that my husband really came into his own when the boys started charging around the place.

It would also mean that the dad wouldn't have to be at home alone with the child the whole time, as you could combine it with the free entitlement offering. The child gets to go to nursery for a few hours and the dad gets to sit at home and rest - sorry - do the ironing, cooking, cleaning and shopping.

That seems like a much better arrangement. I should be a politician.

NICE-ly done...

On a lighter note, a friend of mine texted me today to say that his wife had just given birth that morning to a baby girl. The wife had taken on board the new guidelines issued recently by NICE that encourage mums to give birth outside hospital. Because that is exactly what she did - she gave birth in the back of her husband's car, outside the A&E Department of their local hospital.

I think she may have taken the advice a step too far.

Amanda Coxen, Working Mum and Tinies Director

Further reading:

New Implementation Resources for Shared Parental Leave

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