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

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)

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