newborn baby and fatherNo, no, no. The Queen isn’t advocating that blokes become mothers nor is Parliament. The British powers that be are, however, recognizing that fathers are instrumental to the family unit and that bonding with their babies is something fathers can do to benefit themselves and their families. Even the national economy benefits when fathers are allowed to be fathers.

The current proposal is that when a baby is born, the parents be allowed a collective 50 weeks of maternity leave to care for the baby at home, without worry that jobs will be lost or diminished by doing so. Mom and dad can split the 50 weeks according to medical or parental bond, professional obligation, etc., and the jobs of both parents will remain protected throughout that very crucial first year of the child’s life.

If the proposal meets Parliamentary approval, any British employer who offers maternity benefits to a woman that extend beyond the nationally required minimum must also offer equal benefits to male employees who become fathers.

Fear of gaming the system drives the proposal’s critics but there are safeguards built in that make it difficult to do so. One such safeguard is the requirement that any parent who wants to partake of shared parental leave give his or her employer eight weeks’ advance notice. This protected leave can take place before or after the birth of the baby, depending on family need but ample advance notice on the job is required.

An additional parental benefit under consideration allows all parents to claim as many as 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave per year. This 18-week allowance applies to both parents and to each child in the household under the age of 18. Current legislation limits this type parental leave for parents of children under the age of 5, not 18.

Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrat party, says choosing between motherhood and a successful career should not happen in a fair society. He further says that giving parents the flexibility they need to choose how best to care for their families creates a fair society populated by productive, motivated individuals. By boosting the competitive edge thusly, families, business, and the national economy all prosper.

Source: Wright, Oliver. “Fathers to get newborn ‘maternity’ rights.” The Independent. The Independent. Nov 29, 2013. Web. Dec 11,  2013.

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