Family friendly policies - what would really help you?

(86 Posts)
carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 23-Sep-08 15:00:17

We're in party conference season and wondered what family - friendly policies Mumsnetters would come up with if we had our own Mumsnet Party conference.

A couple of recent quotes from politicans to get us started:

Tory MP Michael Grove said recently "In Sweden, the introduction of flexible parental leave helped increase the amount of time fathers spent with their young children and helped the divorce rate fall by 30%"

Do you think there is a link between fathers' involvement in childcare and family breakdown? And if so what could gov do to help with this?

Then there's the old chestnut of transferable tax allowances for married couples - would that help you/ your family?

We're sure y'all will have tons of other ideas as well as thoughts on these suggestions, so over to you - the Mumsnet party grin

Twiglett Tue 23-Sep-08 15:02:02

retaining your tax breaks even if you choose to be a full-time parent so that family income is set against both adults before income tax kicks in (yes I know 25% of households are single parent but that means 75% aren't)

Twiglett Tue 23-Sep-08 15:04:23

<Twig should read OP>

no emphasis on extending childcare to ensure both parents can work ... focus instead on ensuring children can benefit from flexible working hours

remove SATS .. don't have education dictated by bean-counters but by educationalists (listen to the Teachers' and Headteacher's Unions on SATS)

remove the bollocks that parents have choice .. oh no they don't .. and to say we do is patronising

Boysboysboys Tue 23-Sep-08 15:06:55

Cheaper childcare. Flexible working. More support for SAHM'S and working mums.

RubySlippers Tue 23-Sep-08 15:10:29

"fathers involvement in childcare" <<splutters>>

you mean RAISING their children and being a PARENT

that makes me MAD

if i work late i get asked if DH is "babysitting" - no he bloody isn't

i think Twiglett is right - there is very little choice for parents

gothicmama Tue 23-Sep-08 15:12:12

for married / co-habiting couples (where one parent is at home full time) to be given a tax break or additional child tax credit as at present it can be financial more rewarding to be a lone parent

RubySlippers Tue 23-Sep-08 15:12:19

i am very lucky in that i negotiated flexi working hours and DH has the same

without this our lives would be even more stressful but i am aware we are the exception rather than the norm

Fennel Tue 23-Sep-08 15:12:38

I would like better opportunities to work part time or jobshare without totally limiting all promotion prospects. Still in too many professions it's hard to progress if you aren't working full time or more. On paper there are flexible working opportunitites but most new jobs are still advertised as full time and that's what employers expect.

I am sure that sharing the childcare equally and DP working part time and flexibly has helped my relationship a lot. I would certainly be hugely resentful if it wasn't happening like that in our household.

And another one, making sure that all these flexible working and wraparound care and extending nursery and preschool provision are actually accessible to parents with children with special needs. At the moment they often aren't - there have been several threads on that recently.

PrimulaVeris Tue 23-Sep-08 15:16:07

Flexi working hours/contracts

Paternal involvement in childcare is as much a cultural change/attitudinal problem - not going to be solved by making lots of leave available

Availability of good quality childcare/opporutnities well into school age - into teen age

"I would like better opportunities to work part time or jobshare without totally limiting all promotion prospects."

yes yes yes Fennel. Me too.

TheUNITUBER Tue 23-Sep-08 15:17:58

Enforce the Working Time Directive properly - no more opt outs.

Extend paternity leave rights so that men get at least a month on full pay.

Extend flexible working rights to all employees (not just parents and carers) to normalise flexible working.

Child care costs to be paid out of gross salary in their entirety (so a decent tax saving to be had).

Tax incentives for employers setting up creches on their premises.

(And no, I don't know who will pay for the above, especially in these times of credit crunch, rising employment etc, but I do know that having to work ever harder to make ends meet is detrimental to family life)

Jennyusedtobepink Tue 23-Sep-08 15:19:28

Flexible hours. I have been so frustrated at the lack of part time opportunities for mothers. I worked hard to achieve success in my career, and I don't see why being a mum should override all that. My (child-free) boss says things, 'Ah yes, but it was your choice to have a child', which is true, but I don't understand the complete inability for organisations to consider things like homeworking, flexi-time, compressed hours, and part time.

I have resorted to taking interim contracts, which come with no benefits, and well, it makes me so angry.

It's almost as if to offer a position part time diminishes it's importance.

snigger Tue 23-Sep-08 15:22:28

Flexibility without having to have a dire driving reason - sometimes just not having to live with our kids in shifts would be nice, and that would be achievable if all employers granted reasonable requests for flexibility.

Saturn74 Tue 23-Sep-08 15:22:43

<<assembles soapbox and climbs upon it>>

A marvellous family-friendly policy would be as follows:

to provide specialist dyslexic support and tuition in state schools.

This would mean

1: that my children could actually access the free state education that they are entitled to.

2: I could start up my business again - the one I had to give up in order to home-educate the children.

3: we would then have two incomes again, so DH wouldn't have to work 16-18 hour days; he would be able to spend some time with his us, and he could come on holiday with us instead of staying at home to work.

4: we wouldn't have to spend every Sunday car-booting everything that isn't nailed down, in order to be able to pay for a tutor for the children.

5: our children may actually want to stay in this country, and contribute to it, financially and socially, as adults. As it is, they both want to leg it to foreign climes asap, as they don't want to stick around and pay towards a country that has, so far, treated them like crap.

<<collapses soapbox, and returns it to rucksack>>

bookthief Tue 23-Sep-08 15:47:33

Not allowing employers to arbitrarily decide whether they want to implement the Childcare Vouchers scheme would help us - dh's enormous fatcat employer can't be arsed with it so we lose out on c.£500 a year.

Allowing parents to share parental leave would have also been a huge benefit to us in ds's first year. I was on the higher salary but took the second unpaid 6 months and went back part time - my employer was willing to be flexible, again dh's was not so it was our only option at the time.

Cheaper childcare would be great (not all of us can move close to our parents for free care, or have parents that can/want to) but that'll be a hard one to sell in this economic climate.

foothesnoo Tue 23-Sep-08 15:56:56

Creating a culture where PARENTS ae responsible for children rather than mothers.

Some of the flexible working/ maternity policies could increase discrimination in the workplace because the increased leave (eg extended maternity leave)can only be taken by the mother.

Agree with fennel re: part time/ flexi working limiting career progression, but I think the only way to tackle this is for more fathers to take those options, not just mothers.

Stop expecting schools to do wrap around care and look instead at our culture of long working hours.

TheFallenMadonna Tue 23-Sep-08 16:01:29

I do think the idea that childcare is the repsonsibility of both parents is an important one. I wonder how much goverment can do to address that though. It's a cultural thing surely? The options are there for men as well as women, apart from maternity/paternity leave. But more women than men request them.

DrNortherner Tue 23-Sep-08 16:11:27

Cheaper childcare definatley. It costs well over £1000 to have 1 child in full time childcare atm and that is ridiculous.

foothesnoo Tue 23-Sep-08 16:14:41

Agree Madonna. But the problem is that the mother starts out taking the bulk of maternity leave, falls behind in her career, than the father begins to earn more, therefore it's the mother who downsizwes her job because it makes more sense for the family finances.

Perhaps one way to do it is to cut actual statutory maternity leave to three months and have the rest of allowance renamed New Parent Leave to be taken by either parent?

bookthief Tue 23-Sep-08 16:16:18

It's definitely a strong cultural thing, and the fact that men tend to be the higher earner is a big factor too.

Policy plays a role though. Legislation can help to change culture, make it a bit easier for the men that already/want to play a greater role in childcare.

Dh's company have turned down requests from him where they have accepted similar requests from female employees. It is made very clear that it's my employer that should bear the brunt of any care needs that ds might have (sickness etc). I think this culture is in part a reflection of the legislation that specifies women's needs after birth, when of course childcare is not gender-specific (short of bf!).

WilfSell Tue 23-Sep-08 16:19:52

<ahem: Pedant alert> I think you mean Gove, no?

What Fennel said.

In order for flexibility to work for professional jobs, the job expectations have to fit the time at work (in other words, become more like mundane jobs).

I don't have an easy answer, but it is no good having flexibility if what that really means is you work all hours to catch up with a workload that doesn't shift whatever hours you are contracted for

<steps off soapbox>

And:

Scandinavian-style tax and childcare would be a VERY good start IMHO, though expect flaming from many in the anti-public sector camp that seems so rife these days...

School sports to extend the school day to working hours. Involved paying teachers properly to do this though.

All costs money though. I'm happy to pay but suspect the British public is not.

DrHorrible Tue 23-Sep-08 16:28:56

what is the scandanavian style?

companies & the childcare voucher thingies - be somewhat flexible. Oddly enough when you change hours so a parent cannot do the childcare anymore, don't say "Oh, its ok, we subsidise x nursery" - lovely, I will just uproot my child from where he is happy and settled for his other sessions to come to yours instead hmm

Anna8888 Tue 23-Sep-08 16:29:27

I don't think there is a link between fathers' involvement in childcare/family life and divorce; I think there is a link between at least one parent's disengagement from family life and divorce. Where both adults in a couple are involved in both the decision making and execution of the upbringing of children, families are much more likely to be fully involved in one another's lives, which means more bonding and less breakdown.

Very long working hours, the culture of materialism and the devaluation of domesticity are all long-term trends that governments need to work towards reversing if they are going to ensure that families are strong, stable units.

Transferable tax allowances for married couples don't help the divorce rate IMO (look at France, where the divorce rate is very high despite large transferable tax allowances) and they can make work less attractive for the lower earning spouse.

orangina Tue 23-Sep-08 16:34:38

Tax breaks on child care.

Sunshinetoast Tue 23-Sep-08 16:35:26

It needs to be easier for parents to share caring more. At the moment women take the bulk of leave when a baby is born and men have only two weeks. After a year's leave it is more likely to be the woman who works part-time because she is 'going back to work' whereas his work has continued as before. So employers start to discriminate against women.

We need decent part-time work - part time work is mainly badly paid at the moment so it is hard for families to afford two part-time workers.

And more sharing of leave - women do need more time to get over the birth and establish breast feeding, but after that it should be open to either parent (with at least a month for the father, paid at a rate that meant families could afford to take it).

And subsidised childcare. But I would prioritise flexible working over long hours childcare personally (although I know others have different needs and priorities)

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