Hard Labour - Making maternity and paternity rights at work a reality for all
The Work and Families Bill, published on 19 October 2005, includes a number of measures to enhance the statutory employment rights of working parents.
With one key exception - the Bill's provisions for up to three months of any statutory paid maternity leave not taken by the mother before she returns to work to become available to the father as statutory paid paternity leave - Citizens Advice has warmly welcomed these new measures. However, we have suggested that, for many low-income families, the daily juggling of their caring and working commitments is less a case of enjoying a good 'work-life balance', than of enduring a work-life compromise. This is not least because a great many low-paid workers - most of them non-unionised and working in small workplaces - are simply not receiving the basic rights that the Government now seeks to enhance.
All this report - which is published with the endorsement of Fathers Direct, The Maternity Alliance and Working Families - we urge the Government to abandon the Bill's provisions for unused paid maternity leave to become available to the father as paid paternity leave and instead enhance the individual rights of working fathers to take time off to be with and care for their children at the time of their choosing. And we argue that the Government's strategy in relation to these and other statutory workplace rights must include steps to ensure more universal compliance by small employers, including more pro-active enforcement against rogue employers. Otherwise, many of the most needy and vulnerable workers in the UK economy may simply not benefit at all from the Work and Families Bill.
Social policy contact: email Richard Dunstan