Nick Clegg wants to revolutionise parental leave

The promise for us is that we will receive a corrected and adjustable program of parental leave within 5 years in the UK. This will take the place of the “Edwardian” ways we go by right now.

Nick Clegg puts forth the stand that fathers should have the right to parental leave and take on the responsibility of the child’s main caregiver. He is talking about children from 6 weeks, which matches up with the end of maternity leave’s higher paying rate of 90% of the mother’s wages and the start of the very low £125 per week.

Admittedly, this expands the choice for parents. However, for most families this is not an option at all. They cannot afford either the mother or father to stay at home for £125 a week, and especially the father, since in many cases he earns far more money than the mother.

Young parents disclose that they barely make it through the maternity leave and only by cutting back dramatically or going deeper into debt. Having the father take the leave will not be any easier. In most cases it will be severely more limiting for the family.

Clegg should make a new promise to pay so that the family does not suffer poverty in order to be there for the child in its infancy. He refers to the “use it or lose it” type of leave, akin to that instituted in Sweden, but it is not a fair comparison. Sweden gives far more generously for its parents’ leave, not to mention certain rights that go with it.

Clegg focus exclusively on the earliest months of the child’s upbringing. Yet, to be a good father you must be involved in the child’s life much farther along than just a few months. So why not extend the possibility of paternal leave to much later. Then the father may take of 2, 3, or 5 years later in the child’s life and be there for them.

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