Sharing maternity leave with fathers

(39 Posts)
LonelyCloud Tue 09-Oct-12 15:14:56

Yesterday at work, the subject of maternity leave came up in conversation. I mentioned the recent legislation that allows fathers to take up to 26 weeks of the mothers maternity leave (assuming certain conditions are met).

One of my (female) colleagues was quite shocked to learn about this. She said that she didn't see how it could work, that men wouldn't want to do it, and it would be terrible for small businesses if they had to worry about men started taking 6 months paternity leave whenever they liked, and how they might stop employing men who looked like they might become fathers. I pointed out that this isn't exactly a new problem for small businesses, because women already have the right to a years materity leave.

My colleage then said that maternity leave for women only was okay, because small businesses could just choose not to employ women of childbearing age hmm When I said that this would be illegal, she was very emphatic about this being absolutely morally okay for businesses to do, and said that it shouldn't be illegal anyway.

I was quite shocked to hear these views from my colleague - especially as this female colleague is a single mother in her early 30's with two young daughters, and is therefore suggesting it's okay for employers to reject her (and her daughters when they're older) on grounds of her age and gender.

There's not really much point to this story, but it was very depressing to hear a woman attack maternity rights, and to be so opposed to the notion of allowing fathers to take extra paternity leave if the mother wants to return to work before a full year.

I know it's not for everyone, but personally I see it as a positive step that gives families more options and challenges the viewpoint that childcare should be primarily the mothers responsibility. Is my opinion on this really so unusual?

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 10-Oct-12 13:02:21

I work somewhere where there are quite a lot of couples employed, who both choose to work 4 days a week. I think sharing maternity leave is a brilliant idea. In fact, personally (as a toddler person, who finds babies dull-dull-dull), I'd want a DP to do the first 6 months of colicky hell then I could take over once they were starting to be a bit more mobile and interesting! I realise this is just me, though (and I was shit at breast feeding last time round, so this wouldn't be part of the calculation in my case).

LonelyCloud Wed 10-Oct-12 13:16:12

LynetteScavo - I don't agree with your arguement about this legislation putting more pressure on women to return to work early.

I know women who were pressured to return to work early before this legislation came into force - my personal view is that an employer who wants mothers to take minimal maternity leave is going to be pressuring them regardless of whether or not fathers can share maternity leave. I don't think that employers generally care much about what sort of childcare is used, whether it's family, nursery or whatever.

LynetteScavo Wed 10-Oct-12 13:27:14

OneMoreChap, I'm not sure that's a comparable situation.

By that thinking, DH taking a considerable amount of the maternity leave would be like him giving me every penny he earns.

LynetteScavo Wed 10-Oct-12 13:28:30

Good point, 8LonelyCloud*, I hope you're right.

OneMoreChap Wed 10-Oct-12 13:48:53

LynetteScavo I'm sure I misunderstood what you meant.

Presumably the household money is joint money and the parental leave would be joint, too? Or is that just a naive presumption on my part...

LynetteScavo Wed 10-Oct-12 18:39:43

OMC if you mean household money to mean all of mine and DH's earnings, no it is not joint. DH and I don't seem to do things financially the way most other MNetters do (I have no idea what people in RL do, to organise their finances, I've never asked them). But our way suits us very well. smile.

Also, if I've been pregnant for nine months, given birth and breast feeding during the night, and unless we would financially really struggling I personally would not pass the child care to DH. Just my personal view. I used to have nightmares about going to work and leaving DC1 with DH when I was a new mum.

Of course I believe choice is good, and if other mothers want/need to go back to work sooner, and their DH stay at home for a while, I think that it is brilliant those people can choose to do so.

OneMoreChap Wed 10-Oct-12 19:06:41

... OK, so if it suits you and your DH for him to not be allowed to share the early rearing of DC, I'm pleased it works for you both.

Just a bit of an odd board to read it on, that was all.

WidowWadman Wed 10-Oct-12 19:41:34

I like the German model which doesn't only allow sharing the leave, but gives the incentive to share by offering 2 extra months paid leave, if leave is shared.

kim147 Wed 10-Oct-12 20:51:39

"Also, if I've been pregnant for nine months, given birth and breast feeding during the night, and unless we would financially really struggling I personally would not pass the child care to DH. !

Don't you think this will set a precedent later on when your child is ill / needs the doctors? Who will be the one who does that? Will you then complain DH does not do enough childcare?

avenueone Wed 10-Oct-12 20:57:32

"Also, if I've been pregnant for nine months, given birth and breast feeding during the night, and unless we would financially really struggling I personally would not pass the child care to DH. ! you have a child with a man you don't want to leave the child with ? don't you think the child is his too?

WhenLifeGivesYouLemons Wed 10-Oct-12 21:51:54

Do any of you know how M/L works with regards to the two week compulsory absence following birth. I have arranged to come back to work two weeks following the due date but what if the baby is late? Would I have to take it as sick leave or would it have to be M/L as it is compulsory?

LynetteScavo Wed 10-Oct-12 21:58:43

kim147 - In nearly 14 years of being parents, I have absolutely no complaints about the amount of childcare DH has done. smile (Don't quite get your point about ill child/doctors confused)

avenueone - Yes, I think the child is his too, which is why DH is on the birth certificate of DC1 (we weren't married when he was born) When my DC were small I had a strong animal instinct to be with them and care for them at all times. I seriously think I would have had a breakdown if I had left DC1 before I was ready.

As I say, I realise not everybody is like me, (slightly unhinged and constantly hormonal wink) and therefor, welcome this legislation.

xkcdfangirl Wed 10-Oct-12 22:28:10

WLGYL I think you aren't supposed to go back till 2 weeks after the birth, yes. It's four weeks if you work in a factory. see 'Compulsory' section here and it is from your baby's actual date of birth. I think your employers would insist on treating it as longer mat-leave not sick leave if your baby is late as they get money from the government for your mat leave but not for sick leave.

WhenLifeGivesYouLemons Thu 11-Oct-12 12:54:29

thanks xkcd sorry for thread sabotage. Am in early stages of labour and the thought just occurred to me :S

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