LibLink: Jo Swinson Parental pay transparency would do wonders for workplace equality – but the government need to take action

This week, Jo Swinson has persuaded 10 major firms to share their parental leave policies as a key element in the fight against maternity discrimination. Jo, who introduced shared parental leave as a Business Minister, now wants companies to go further to encourage employees and attract more people to work for them:

She wrote for the Independent about why this was so important:

A new mother forced to resign after being bombarded with texts and emails telling her she “obviously can’t work with two kids”. Another one who returns to work to find herself reapplying for her job after a company restructure. And another who feels she has no choice but to quit because her employer won’t give her the time and space she needs to express milk for her daughter.

These are just a small selection of the real-life stories published by Pregnant then Screwed, a campaign group that protects and promotes the rights of mothers. They are a powerful reminder that we have a long way to go to achieve workplace equality.

Each year 54,000 women are forced out of their jobs because of pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the UK. A decade ago, the figure was 30,000. And these figures don’t even capture the myriad other ways in which women are penalised for having children, from missing out on promotions and pay rises to losing a place on a big project or trip abroad.

She goes on to discuss how openness about parental leave helps all parents in the workplace:

Being transparent about parental leave and pay policies will help build a workplace culture where men also feel supported in taking on their fair share of caring responsibilities. But, again, there is no single solution to the problem. We also need working dads, especially those in leadership roles, to be open and proud about how they balance professional and family responsibilities. And the government needs to give fathers a bigger chunk of leave allocated just for them on a use-it-or-lose-it basis and to enhance statutory pay for parental leave.

Men want to play a bigger and equal role in raising their children, but as a society we don’t support them in that. Research published earlier this month by Business in the Community found that 85 per cent of men think that men should be as involved in all aspects of childcare as women, and 56 per cent of men with caring responsibilities want to be more involved in caring.

You can read the whole article here.

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