The current paternity and maternity leave system encourages a “men at work, women at home” culture according the Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband. Men are entitled to receive two weeks’ paid paternity leave at a flat rate of £150 a week, which he proposes should be increased to 12 weeks.
Writing in his latest book, Big Ideas, Miliband refers to research that suggests that nine years after a baby’s birth, paternity leave has long-term effects on the quality of father-child relationships. He said that most fathers can’t afford to take time off to care for their new child due to financial constraints.
More equal parental leave would also benefit women in the workplace and help narrow the gender pay gap, which research shows can be partly attributed to childcare.
According to Miliband, men who take paternity leave around childbirth develop a closer, healthier relationship with their child and that the family unit is stronger.
“Our ambition should be to build a world where men engage equally in the caring that has historically been done by women, and in so doing reorder the values of work, family and love so that work does not always come first,” he said.