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

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

CantSleepWontSleep Tue 23-Sep-08 21:45:58

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.

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