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>


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)

Sunshinetoast Tue 23-Sep-08 16:36:59

Interesting to see what Michael Grove said too - suggests that the Tories aren't sure what they think - are they going for Scandi style sharing of roles or tax breaks for married couples and bring back the 1950s? Or are they just going to say different things to different audiences and hope no one notices?

DaisySteiner Tue 23-Sep-08 16:42:47

OT, but it's Michael GOVE, not Grove.

Tax-breaks on childcare would be good. Also sorting the bloody nightmare that is the Child Tax Credit system.

What about being able to 'save' your personal tax allowance while you're not working and use it when you go back into paid employment, rather than tax-breaks for married couples?

TheFallenMadonna Tue 23-Sep-08 16:57:29

Can't see teachers being keen to be involved in extended school hours TBH. Because when the children leave we start the rest of our work. I wouldn't do it, even for more pay.

TheFallenMadonna Tue 23-Sep-08 16:58:04

But then I wouldn't be much of a sports coach either grin

WilfSell Tue 23-Sep-08 16:58:22

But there already are tax breaks on childcare in many settings: do you mean a different system to employers salary sacrifice schemes?

Mercy Tue 23-Sep-08 16:58:55

I don't buy that statistic re the divorce rate falling - what about parents who live together but then break up, how is that measured? (which is not to say that flexible parental leave is a bad thing btw)

I've been looking at part-time jobs recently. Funny how many of the school friendly hours ones are 15 hours a week which means you are not entitled to claim working tax credit - by one hour.

Reduce the school leaving age and/or introduce more vocational subjects.

Not really answering the question I know but still.

WilfSell Tue 23-Sep-08 17:17:13

Fair enough, fallenmadonna, no-one should be forced to a change in their terms and conditions.

To me extending the school day to give kids more exercise kills LOTS of important birds with one stone though. Makes the school day more family friendly, saves childcare costs to the parent (because the govt should pay for it via taxes), increases kids activities etc..

Perhaps the commitment to wrap around care should be more mandatory, should include sports coaching or other physical activity, music, drama, dance and not just half-hearted warehousing of kids. The extended hours could be things that kids need, sometimes enjoy and are not just about more lessons...

Fennel Tue 23-Sep-08 17:17:58

Salary sacrifice schemes are a poor substitute to proper tax breaks on childcare. We had a workplace nursery at one point which was tax-free and wonderful. No hassle.

But now, different job, workplace nursery full, we have been using salary sacrifice schemes. First you have to persuade unwilling private sector employers to use them (dp's firm was not keen). Then you have to guess in advance what your childcare costs might be. I have 3 children in variable types of childcare depending on term and holiday and age of child, I have to notify personnel well in advance of changes in amount of sacrifice scheme. They are fed up with me.

and it has implications for redundancy and future maternity leaves (that last is not an issue for me now but it is for many)

They are very cumbersome, and not open to everyone. They also increase gender inequality in terms of pay and related benefits as the jobs which tend to offer salary sacrifice schemes are the ones where there are more women, so women tend to get their pay reduced in this way and men tend not to. On average.

Just not taxing the childcare would be a whole lot simpler.

WilfSell Tue 23-Sep-08 17:24:15

Yes, I see your point Fennel. I am smug with the ease of a workplace nursery and finance dept who work it all out.

How would not taxing childcare work though?

TotalChaos Tue 23-Sep-08 17:26:16

flexible working

some sort of allowance for the inevitable time off for sick children (we don't all have family or friends free in daytime)

better SN provision

WilfSell Tue 23-Sep-08 17:32:02

Oh god yes, in some ways the time off with sick children when you're back after maternity leave is harder than anything. You're supposed to be on full steam ahead; by default, the kids are ill because they're mixing in childcare settings.

I don't know anyone who coped well with the return to work and illness in kids for a year or so.

I don't know what the solution is. Current arrangement of parental leave doesn't really work because it all has to be pre-negotiated and for solid periods of time I think, not odd days. People just take their holiday or call in sick themselves a lot I think?

Mercy Tue 23-Sep-08 17:40:17

Agree with you about when children are ill.

When dd was in Reception she had about 30 days off (she had flu and was off school for nearly 3 weeks, the other times were a day or 2 here and there). Just as well as I was an sahm, I can just see dh being allowed - adn willing - to share that time off hmm

Marina Tue 23-Sep-08 17:42:29

Definitely a Scandinavian model for extended parental leave on a living wage and having your job held open for you for two years. I think this model would improve the situation regarding the realities of mat leave cover in the private sector because two years needs a person in post, rather than making colleagues cover for a few miserable months.
I work in the public sector and one of the best benefits for me is five days a year Emergency Family Leave. It is paid and, importantly IMHO, it can also be used by employees to look after elderly parents/take partner to hospital for day surgery/whatever. So accessible to childfree employees.

Marina Tue 23-Sep-08 17:44:27

WilfSell, I passed out at my desk with tonsillitis the first winter I was back at work after having ds. I was just so ashamed of all the leave I'd already had to take, I came in with a raging fever. I was found unconscious shock by one of my line managers at the time. He was such a well-meaning eejit that he thought I was taking a siesta and just quietly closed the door on my office...

Oh yes, the sick children thing. That is the biggest single cause of stress in our lives.

hatwoman Tue 23-Sep-08 18:59:28

another plea for gender equality in this whole debate. The one year maternity leave has quite possibly taken us backwards not forwards - and this has to be addressed. it's not just about mat leave - it has longer term implications eg women more likely to go back part-time and/or to quit completely - this, in public policy terms, is total madness - it means reducing the potential work force on gender lines, it means keeping the work place male, it means decisions are made (by both employer and employee) on the basis of gender not on objective considersations. Before we know it the Daily Mail will start harping on about women wasting university degrees (they almost certainly already have). we will never have equality in the work place until we have it at home. A few years ago I was hopeful that by the time dds grew up we might have near equality. now I am seriously worried that they could even have a worse time than us.

hotmama Tue 23-Sep-08 19:02:26

Although it's much appreciated to have the facility of childcare vouchers - it would be better if they could finance all nursery fees. As nursery fees are paid out of income that has already been taxed, the real cost of nursery fees are whacking!

An increased entitlement to parental leave for ALL parents. Must admit though I don't want to share my maternity leave - I want dp to be able to take paid time off as well - not the unpaid he is going to take!

The maximum class size being applied to KS2 like it is at KS1.

Would like transferable tax allowances between all parents not just married parents.

TheFallenMadonna Tue 23-Sep-08 19:19:19

Would you want to shorten maternity leave again then hatwoman?

Podrick Tue 23-Sep-08 19:26:44

A re-think of the "all jobs must be 38 hours a week and 47 weeks a year" dictat so that "part time" working was not ipso facto career suicide - this would benefit all of society and not just mothersw.

MrsSnorty Tue 23-Sep-08 20:02:56

I don't know what the scandanavian model of child care is, but I know that in Germany couples are given an amount of parental leave that they can share between them. Eg the mother can take leave following the birth then return to work with her partner taking over

Changing the subject - one thing that would make my life easier as a parent is a reduction in the amount of forms I have to fill in. Ok so I have quite a complicated life at the moment but the amount I am required to fill in is ridiculous. Surely the inland revenue knows what I'm up to and could disseminate the information accordingly, rather than me repeating the same information to child tax credit agency, CSA, student finance company, benefits people, council tax people, etc etc etc. It's almost a full time job...

LunarSea Tue 23-Sep-08 20:18:40

tax relief on childcare

proper after school sports provision which doesn't rely on parents being around to shuttle kids around to activities

more school holiday schemes which actually cater for the hours working parents have to do - 10-3 isn't that useful when you work full time and there aren't even the wrap-around options that there are in termtime

employers not thinking that home-based working means 24x7 availability/that holidays and weekends are optional and can be cancelled at zero notice when you live in your "office"/that you're never too ill to carry on working/that it's an excuse for a compulsory opt-out from the working time regulations (can you tell that mine are giving me grief at the moment?!)

flexible working not meaning zero career progression

employers being required to publish figures on average salary ratios for male:female staff, amount of training offered to male:female staff etc - all to easy to get away with unequal practices at the moment.

julen Tue 23-Sep-08 20:24:33

More options for flexible hours, jobshares etc. (without you being sidelined career-wise). For women and men.

Politicians to leave education well alone instead of trying to score points by meddling and invariably making things worse. Let schools get rid of preparing students for the tons of tests and let them get on with what they're there for: educating.

noonki Tue 23-Sep-08 20:42:16

part time hours that mean where possible - you work 9.30 til 3pm everyday and have all school holidays off

it works out hours wise close to part-time hours

though would only be possible in some careers.

alot of childless people I know are more than happy to work school holidays coz it is so expensive to go away then.

noonki Tue 23-Sep-08 20:42:30

part time hours that mean where possible - you work 9.30 til 3pm everyday and have all school holidays off

it works out hours wise close to part-time hours

though would only be possible in some careers.

alot of childless people I know are more than happy to work school holidays coz it is so expensive to go away then.

Mercy Tue 23-Sep-08 20:51:00

My post seems to have disappeared!

Anyway, I don't see an increase in maternity leave as a bad thing. How can it be? Ok, it may affect your career progression for a bit but...

In my mum's day it was 6 weeks or so, Fathers had nothing (and it's still close to nothing)

We need to have a societal/cultural change in thinking before any policies will really have any affect (and tbh, I don't think that's going to happen in the mainstream)

butterflymum Tue 23-Sep-08 21:05:02

Stricter limits put on amount of homework children are required to do at both Primary and Seconadary level, but especially the latter.

After all, many Secondary level pupils are putting in nearly as long a day as most adult workers, yet they are on top of that expected to do homework every night and, especially in the older years, this can amount to a few hours. How many adult workers would be happy to, as well as working each day, also take home and do a few hours of work each night?

Even if homework only takes an hour or so, it cuts across precious family time.

butterflymum Tue 23-Sep-08 21:08:23

And I should have added, if you have a number of children of different ages, then it stretching out to an evening of homework can almost become the norm, (eg with say the younger ones doing homework in the lead up to dinner/tea then perhaps an older child doing work after tea - yes, I realise you personally are not doing the work but you have to spend a fair bit of time working alongside the younger child/children and do still need to have some involvement, perhaps in checking, that of an older child).

WideWebWitch Tue 23-Sep-08 21:24:11

Term time only working / job shares without it meaning shitey job paying tuppence. 16 weeks school holidays = hard to cover

Better paid maternity leave

home working (I would expect to have childcare in place but to be able to then work from home is bliss)

the right to GET flexible working, not just apply.

agree about culture where PARENTS and not just mothers are responsible for children/childcare

make it illegal for employers to ask about childcare at interviews (I was asked at a 7.30am interview)

Agree with Fennel too

rookiemater Tue 23-Sep-08 21:28:41

I heard from a snippet of that Gordon Brown speech today that he is promising that all children will have a certain amount of free nursery time from aged 2.

I don't know what on earth that is meant to achieve. If its designed in the way that existing nursery is, then it's a disencentive to work as it is impossible to structure working around 2.5 hours per day. And surely 2-3 year olds don't actually need to be in nursery for educational reasons.

I think it would be simpler to increase the tax breaks on child care vouchers, perhaps all child care vouchers could be tax free rather than the first £200 or so.

The flexible working policy has helped, but it needs to have some balls so it can be enforced. Also dammit, this is just me, but I hate this pussy footing round flexible working where it has to be seen to be offered to everyone so as not to be discriminatory. Surely those with childcare or carer responsibilities need it more than someone who just fancies a half day on a Friday to do their nails and catch up with sleep.

Our DC is not at school yet, but a proposal to keep volumes of homework at a sensible level seems reasonable to me.

Jackstini Tue 23-Sep-08 21:35:44

Transferable tax allowances between parents
Flexible parental leave so parents decide who takes how many weeks. Really annoys me that we could afford for dh to take a years paternity leave at stat pay, but because I earn 4 x what he does, our new baby will have to go into part time childcare at 3 mo sad just because 'the wrong sex' is the breadwinner angry

Something to allow self-employed fathers to take paternity leave without losing all income. At the very least a paternity allowance in the same way that there is a maternity allowance for self-employed mothers.

mummyclare Tue 23-Sep-08 21:52:01

The Scandinavian system seems very attractive to me. The only down side (apart from expense) that I have heard is that they've ended up with most women in public sector jobs while men fill the private sector jobs.

I think it is very important that flexible working is available to non-parents and the more it is adopted by non-parents the less of a stigma will be attached to it.

Tax breaks are essential for childcare if you want to keep people working. The legislation on child ratios at nursery were great but they it has had a huge financial impact. It is wrong that I get tax relief because I am lucky enough to have a work place nursery, whereas if I had to find a more expensive private nursery I then wouldn't get the tax break.

I think the idea suggested of carrying over your tax free allowance until returning to work is a great one.

Better support for new parents especially breastfeeding support. Being shown twice in hospital before being left on your own and then being inundated with "breast feeding awareness campaigns" is patronising and cruel.

As people have already mentioned the government should be responsible for providing decent childcare help around the school day and in school holidays. Am dreading trying to juggle work and first child starting school.

jellybeans Tue 23-Sep-08 21:54:34

Acknowledging that looking after your own child as a SAHP is a contribution to families/society

Transferable tax allowance for SAHP

Instead of funding childcare I like the suggested scheme where funds are given for families to choose whether to SAH or use towards childcare.

I don't think wraparound care in schools is a good idea and don't think it should be compulsary.

Accepting that many women want to join the workplace or have to but that others are happy to stay home and have a different role to their OH.

Make it easier for people to go back to adult education.

Less homework and targets for children.

beanieb Tue 23-Sep-08 22:06:13

"Do you think there is a link between fathers' involvement in childcare and family breakdown?" in some cases, yes, but family breakdown happens for a variety of other reasons as people are complicated and make teir own decisions which no amount of childcare options could help.

What would help me? Free childcare from one year old if you want it,.

GodzillasBumcheek Tue 23-Sep-08 22:19:55

Stop telling people that they can pay their children's Aunt/Nana to look after the kids if they would prefer to be a SAHM - what's the difference between paying the mum and paying the nana (who may not be available anyway)?

trixymalixy Tue 23-Sep-08 22:55:41

Tax relief on all childcare costs or free/cheaper childcare.

Better maternity pay.

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

callmeovercautious Tue 23-Sep-08 23:01:43

Increase Childcare Vouchers to cover full time Nursery fees on one parents income or split between two if there are two in the home.

Promote the voucher scheme properly or even make it compulsary to employers as per stakeholder pensions. I work in HR and had no clue about setting up a scheme until I had DD and bullied our Finace Director into it. Loads have people have taken it up since.

Re-inforce the discrimination laws re part time workers. Apparently it is still OK to make snide comments about PT working even to an HR person (me!). Particularly the bit about returning to work in a different role with no difference in status - utter rubbish at present, anyone who drops their hours or even just starts leaving on time is seen as having less status. Go on Gordon see what you can do about the culture of UK business hmm

hatwoman Tue 23-Sep-08 23:02:42

mercy this outlines why the increase in maternity leave (as opposed to a decent system of parental leave) is not good for equality.

Soapbox Tue 23-Sep-08 23:17:34

I would want employers to have to report on a number of different metrics to do with equality of opportunity of male and female workforce, and if they meet 'excellent' criteria then they qualify for a reduction in corporation tax of a percentage or two.

In these troubled times, I would want to ensure that a disproportionate number of people on flexible working packages are not made redundant. This was rife as a fairly shoddy practice in the early 90's! A whole generation of people on flexible working arrangements were cleared out of professional practices at that time! I would hate to see that happen again!

Soapbox Tue 23-Sep-08 23:19:14

Oh and to all those posters who have been on their soapboxes today - GERROFFMEgrin

1dilemma Tue 23-Sep-08 23:36:20

What trixy said 1000 times over

plus making voucher scheme compulsory (if we can't just submit our bills) plus encouraging employers to offer flexible working plus get rid of the long hours culturs and bring in some compressed hours, why can't I start work at 9.15 after a 9 am drop off, why can't I take 2 hours early one day to get a sight test or a dentist appointment or come in 2 hours late after a trip

But really convince me why tax deductable childcare can't happen? I would then actually end the month wiht a net profit for working grin

1dilemma Tue 23-Sep-08 23:37:49

I totally fail to see why a transferrable tax allowance is a good thing surely it's the perk of doing paid work? that and going to the toilet unaccompanied grin

convince me someone please
tell me the reasons why

VeniVidiVickiQV Wed 24-Sep-08 00:51:22

Lets start at the beginning.....

Antenatal, childbirth and postnatal care to be family inclusive and family friendly. Homebirths to be encouraged - obviously if not primagravida. (although not excluding it).

Better pat/maternity leave, pay, and flexibility.

Increase the maximum provision of childcare vouchers - in fact I think it should be entirely tax deductable. Less penalisation for those who use family to assist in childcare - incentives for family-centred childcare would be good.

Normalising and encouragement of men doing part time/flexible working. Job specs to be banned from specifying "Full Time Only".

Discounted family travel tickets.

Tax credits system to be linked more directly with PAYE system to save arduous completion of forms that relies mostly on information HMRC already have. It should be an 'opt out' not 'opt in' system. Tax code calculation to simplify procedure perhaps?

Tax relief greater for those working in childcare professions.

More areas for outside childrens play in built up, city areas. More allotment plots to be made available for families and not just doddery old-folk with too much time on their hands.

ENsure that suppliers of food are much more detailed in their contents and nutritional information. McDonalds is a good example of this actually!

Peabody Wed 24-Sep-08 08:19:07

I know it will never happen, but imagine if there were creches where you could drop your kids for an hour or two, and pay for this on an hourly basis.

This would make a huge difference to me.

blueshoes Wed 24-Sep-08 09:28:37

Probably been said before ... but here goes:

Extending maternity benefits to fathers as well, such that fathers can take paid paternity pay/leave as well as mothers (sharing, total combined limit). So it is the same theoretical risk to employers of employing men as women, as one step in a sea change.

Flexible working regulations with more teeth.

Simplified tax breaks for parents eg £x tax rebate/relief per child + tax relief for childcare expenses and school fees up to a limit (thought I would slip that in!). Not sure why it is necessary to do things with vouchers and tax credits/refunds etc. Just leave it to the parents to claim in their income tax returns.

More subsidies/tax breaks for childminders, nurseries etc so they can lower their costs.

Think Ofsted has gone a bit crazy on their Early Years' Curriculum or whatever it is now called and the paperwork it generates - so some push back on that.

blueshoes Wed 24-Sep-08 09:31:46

Hi peabody, my company ties up with a nursery to offer just that. A drop in nursery if there is an emergency break down in childcare.

The other area is parents wilfully defaulting on maintenance payments or not respecting custodial orders and denying contact. Not sure what the solution is, but just throwing it into the mix.

elliott Wed 24-Sep-08 09:44:33

More emphasis on help for those with school age children - like easier access to annualised hours, shorter school holidays, better quality holiday clubs, not assuming that need for support ends at 11...
I didn't realise how easy I had it when they were preschoolers...

elliott Wed 24-Sep-08 09:46:18

Oh yes, and more high quality state subsidised childcare and out of school care. This cannot be done on the cheap. Better to have good quality affordable care directly provided, than lots of complicated voucher schemes and other things designed to stimulate a 'market'. Cheap childcare is very frightening.
Agree also about SATs.

expatinscotland Wed 24-Sep-08 09:48:09

how about more non-traditional hours childcare?

not every working parent can work 9-5.

that time slot severely limits a lot of people and forces them not to go back to work after having children, particularly if they are lone parents. or keeps them out of work and on benefits.

elliott Wed 24-Sep-08 09:49:55

Totally against tax breaks as these favour the affluent. Would rather have more access to cheaper good childcare (by subsidy to the provider) than more money for me to pay for it.

SchnitzelVonKrumm Wed 24-Sep-08 09:57:12

i should not have to pay my children's nanny -- and her tax -- out of income that has already been heavily taxed, in order to work and pay even more tax.

SchnitzelVonKrumm Wed 24-Sep-08 09:59:26

and our particular work/family situation means we need the flexibility of a nanny

Lemontart Wed 24-Sep-08 10:32:52

I wish there was more support/recognition or even awareness of the needs of self employed parents.

At the moment there is nothing useful at all for us as parents with young children. We (DH and I) made the choice to become self employed so we could work from home and both share the responsibility and joy of bringing up our children in the maximum "hands on" way. Whilst it means we don’t have to fight for, or "explain" time off to an unsympathetic boss, if one of our children is sick, we end up looking after the child in the day and work ourselves into the ground late into the night to catch up on missed work. We could never afford unpaid paternity or maternity leave - juggling work hours and 24/7 shifts between us.
Being self employed is great for the family in all ways except financially. I gave up a well paid job with decent pension plan for my family and in return I have no pension, no security and no support or recognition from anyone other than each other. If our company goes under, the government is not about to bail us out! There would just be a shrug of shoulders and a fat bill to pay.

My other main irritation is the presumption that parents take on and give up their time to help in them community to support and back up what the government should really be covering - like the PTA funding important school equipment and valuable extra curricular activities that should really be "curricular" but the school cannot prioritise with limited funds. Same with playgroups and other child based organisations.
It is the self employed "flexi hours" parents and the SAH parents that keep the voluntary side of community/child care going during the day, but there is no real recognition of the roles many of us play. How else would many playgroups survive without the voluntary parents at home? or the helping out in the primary schools - I give up several hours a week to go in and read. WIthout about 6 or 7 or us doing this, the school could never afford extra staff to cover what we provide. Same with after school clubs (netball, photography club, media club etc etc etc) run by parents. We are happy to juggle our day to help out and do our bit, happy to work at night instead to make up the hours or to not apply for a full time job as people feel they are too committed to supporting and being involved in community child care - unpaid work not recognised or seemingly valued by anyone other than the children and fellow parents.

(sorry rambling post, brain not totally in gear yet - up all night working late to meet a deadline as spent yesterday nursing a child with stomach bug..)

ImnotMamaGbutsheLovesMe Wed 24-Sep-08 11:03:32

If my husband was taxed one band lower to take into account the fact that my job is unpaid.

1dilemma Wed 24-Sep-08 21:49:26

Sorry lemontart I find your post quite ?offensive surely if you are self employed it is your responsibility to sort out your own pension which will have tax deductible contributions in the same way everyone else does, you say that you chose to be self-employed for the benefits it brings you as a family yet you expect me to pay for that choice despite the fact it has no benefits for me? I read somewhere recently that the average self employed person pays tax on an income in the 30,000s yet has the lifestyle of someone earning in the 50,000s. Maybe a good accountant would help? there was a (s/e)mumsnetter a while ago who said they had an income of 55K based on the tax they paid yet another (?Jura) pointed out it was more like 85K and they just had a good accountant.

I agree with you about school funding yet you neatly manage to include self employed workers in those who keep schools going but why not the employed? My dc is one of only 4 children in the class where both parents work F/T yet I managed to go in for 3 afternoons last year. I was the second parent to turn up at all! (I have a super inflexible employer!) Lots of employed parents are school governors/help out at fairs etcetc.Plenty of workers take work home with them too have you never seen a teacher thread on here!

I'm not disagreeing with the assumption that more is done during school hours by SAHM but I resent the way your post implies that people employed externally can't/don't do their bit

1dilemma Wed 24-Sep-08 21:52:25

I like blueshoes idea about tax rebates grin it would be cheaper to administer, addresses a few goverment policies (regardless of whether they are right or wrong grin) and solves a few thorny problems!

But there again it's one of the few ideas on here I would actually benefit from!

I still say tax deductible childcare, I have even written to the gov about this (but got no reply!)

mummyclare Thu 25-Sep-08 09:33:39

After learning all about it from the parallel thread on working with school aged kids:

Ban graduated starts at primary school.
Make every school provide wrap around childcare
Ban inset days / half days of any sort
More full time childcare provision in school holiday time
Ban costume making

WilfSell Thu 25-Sep-08 09:37:46

grin at ban costume making.

Oh yes please.

abouteve Thu 25-Sep-08 09:46:57

lol at costume making. I can remember the womens' libbers in the 60's carrying around banners demanding 'free 24 hour child care'. (Saw it on TV). This was a backlash of course to the fact that women had been expected to stay at home looking after children.

I sense through mumsnet that mothers seem to be going against the liberation movement and wish to stay at home with their children. There was anger at Gordon Browns proposal to make free nursery places available to 2 year olds.

As I've always had to combine motherhood with working I'd say a balance is ideal. Therefore think that childcare should be free to all. Part-time, full-time whatever suits your circumstances.

mummyclare Thu 25-Sep-08 09:53:42

I agree abouteve not just for the sake of the mothers either. I think a lot of children would benefit hugely from it. I understand that, some kids arrive at school aged nearly 5 ill prepared for it and with bad behavioral problems that could have been prevented with help earlier on.

Bramshott Thu 25-Sep-08 09:56:47

An end to this insane work culture where a job doesn't really count unless you do it in an office, between the hours of 8am and 7pm each day (let's not con ourselves that we work 9-5 hey?) and it consumes all your waking hours.

Accept that there are many, many reasons why people may want to work more flexibly (yes young children, but also elderly parents, helping teenagers with exams, and getting a better work/life balance ffs, particularly in the years leading up to retirement) and that it is better to have motivated employees who want to work for you, rather than just those employees who are prepared to be a prescence in the office for the aforementioned hours.

An end to the attitude that says "well women choose to have children and must accept the consequences of that" and realise that (a) two parents choose to have children, and (b) we would all be fucked as a society and as an economy if they didn't.

<<climbs down off soapbox - well you did ask!!>>

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