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to think that Peter Mandelson is a spineless, sexist bully?

(22 Posts)
sausagerolemodel Mon 27-Jul-09 13:21:13

He now wants to overturn Labour's election pledge to allow maternity leave to be shared by both parents. Does he not understand that this is the only way to stop active discrimination against women of child-bearing age in the workplace? (I speak as someone who was asked at an interview recently how I would cope being back in the workplace post-birth, and was I sure I would be able to arrange childcare for the inevitable long hours I would have to work).

Discrimination is alive and well. Employers both surruptitiously or blatantly make it clear that they think that female employees are a liability. Women are not going to stop having children anytime soon, so the only way to make this a thing of the past is to allow parental leave to be shared.

One last point - if Labour were really so worried about young men killing one another out on the streets, then this is also something they could do to ensure that fathers are integrated into families and childcare responsibilities. It benefits everyone, and I really don't see how splitting the leave should make any difference to business except that they will no longer assume that because someone is a bloke they won't have family responsibilities.

**apologies if this was in another thread, I searched but couldn't find anything**

TheCrackFox Mon 27-Jul-09 13:28:41

HMM, can't decide actually.

Personally, I think a 50/50 split is unfair towards women. I think there should be some recognition that pregnancy/childbirth and breastfeeding are hard work. Men would also, presumably, be getting their leave when the baby is 6 months old and alot of babies are sleeping through by then.

I would be in favour of a 70/30 split.

artichokes Mon 27-Jul-09 13:30:16

But Crack, the 50/50 split would be optional. The woman could take 100% or 75% or just 50% - whatever works for the individuals involved.

KingRolo Mon 27-Jul-09 13:44:16

The way to stop discrimination against women in the work place is through cheaper and better quality childcare for children over the age of one.

Companies can cope with an employee being off for 6 / 9 / 12 months maternity leave. They can appoint someone to cover and that's that.

It's what happens when the mother returns to work that is the problem.

sausagerolemodel Mon 27-Jul-09 13:45:25

Yes its entirely optional. As I am a freelance worker and my husband a full time employee, we would have been far, far better off if he were allowed to take some paternity leave than we were with the status quo. I can't help feeling that if a working couple are better off if they were in reversed roles, then something is not quite right. There certainly isn't "equality".

sausagerolemodel Mon 27-Jul-09 13:50:25

I agree wholeheartedly Rolo, that better childcare is also necessary. I think the lack of childcare affects women in some ways more insidiously, because it prevents some (many?) women from returning to their careers altogether. They can't be discriminated against in the workplace because it wasn't even worth their while to go back. BUT the issues I raise is about something specific that Labour promised to do which would have made a difference and are now chickening out of.

Wordsmith Mon 27-Jul-09 13:58:02

Agree with the OP. It's not a problem with childcare (although that is a problem - but a separate one) - It's the fact that at the moment, it's only women who take time off to have a baby. At least if men were equally allowed to take a substantial proportion of leave (which would require employers to face the problem of appointing cover for them), employers would gradually begin to realise that parenting isn't only a 'women's issue'. Then it would be up to couples how they decided to split the time. When was the last time a man announcing "I'm going to be a dad!" at work was treated with anything other than backslapping congratulations?

stickylittlefingers Mon 27-Jul-09 14:07:39

When I saw a thing on how they did it in Sweden, there was a mandatory period for each partner, and then a period that could be taken by either.

My worry would be that there would be pressure on each to make the other do the leave. I've had this in a previous job where DP and I would swap about on who could stay late and who would do pick up - if it was my turn there were comments that I should get DP to do it, wasn't it his turn... my concern would be that this would just be amplified if it were whole swathes of time that one could choose to take.

But basically I agree - I think it would be much healthier all round if leave could be swapped. Especially where the woman earns more than the man, it seems daft to make her stay off if he'd rather and they would be better off financially.

funwithfondue Mon 27-Jul-09 14:15:23

^Employers would gradually begin to realise that parenting isn't only a 'women's issue'.^

I agree that this needs to happen, and I think it's possibly the biggest feminist/social issue of the 21st century.

However, is it only through 50/50 parental leave split that employers' (and societies') attitudes could be changed?

BTW, anyone got a link to this news story?

KingRolo Mon 27-Jul-09 14:15:43

Where does breastfeeding fit into the Swedish model? Once the mandatory period of leave starts for the father and the mother goes back to work that's obviously going to the end of it. The WHO advises breastfeeding until a year old, at least.

Wordsmith Mon 27-Jul-09 14:18:00

Presumably they could express milk?

KingRolo Mon 27-Jul-09 14:30:27

Easier said than done WS. Is it fair for women to work full time and spend all their breaks and lunchtime expressing?

It's inconvenient but this aspect of parenting is a women's issue.

TheCrackFox Mon 27-Jul-09 14:32:11

I breastfed for a year but could only express a thimble full of milk.

sausagerolemodel Mon 27-Jul-09 14:36:05

heh - paternity leave also confers a 16% decrease in male mortality! h&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=ccf52b7ff9fae6 f4d13e80dc1572a0b4

Also, according to this list, Sweden tops BFoing rate, so however they arrange the leave it obviously doesn't affect it too badly.

Country % of mothers who start % who continue 6 months or longer

Sweden 98 53
Norway 98 50
Poland 93 10
Canada 80 24
Netherlands 68 25
Britain 63 21
United States 57 20

Sources: Baby Milk Action, Cambridge, England; Center for Breastfeeding Information,

ABetaDad Mon 27-Jul-09 14:47:17

sausagerolemodel - you are right that until men have an equal right indeed an absolute requirement on employers to give men exactly equal parental rights as women the discrimination will continue.

It is perfectly obvious if men has less rigts than a woman to parental leave then the employer is going to pick the man rather than the woman who does have the right.

Me and DW have often talked about this and we think a draconan law should be passed under health and safety legislation absolutley requiring men on safety grounds to not be in work 3 months after a baby is born. Tiredness kills at work. Look at drivers asleep atthe wheel. I agree on the issue of young men and violence and family bonding too. I feel incredibly lucky I had the time to bond properly with our children being a SAHD.

I cannot believe a Labbour Govt has done so little for equal rights.

sausagerolemodel Mon 27-Jul-09 15:19:30

Me too Betadad (re Labour Govt) but what makes this worse is that it was promised in their manifesto, and now they are reneging. I feel so let down by them. I am glad you were able to get time at home with your kids and like your idea of H&S laws being used to provide paternity leave! I was lucky as my OH is lecturer so a combination of lucky timing, xmas shutdown, 2 weeks paternity and annual leave meant we had 8 weeks off together when she was born. It was blissful. I would be gutted by anything less if we did it it again.

The only up to date link I have to the story is a tabloid one the Mirror

The main news about this came out in March this year here is the Times article

I would like to send Harriet Harman my support, but don't know how.

sausagerolemodel Mon 27-Jul-09 15:21:24

Do you know - it also just occurred to me that they sneaked this out just as the new equality white bpaper (which it was supposed to be in, I believe) was published. Was this deliberate so there was no/little time for complaint? Who lobbies for this kind of thing specifically?

kathyis6incheshigh Mon 27-Jul-09 15:25:47

I suppose it's the cost - that even if they made it the same total length of leave, this would lead to more people taking it.
But I very much agree that shared rights to leave would really help deter discrimination against women in appointments.

stickylittlefingers Mon 27-Jul-09 15:59:58

This sounds like an interesting articleThe Impact of Family-Friendly Policies in Denmark and Sweden on Mothers' Career Interruptions Due to Childbirth

According to Wikipedia in Sweden all working parents are entitled to 16 months paid leave per child, the cost being shared between employer and State. To encourage greater paternal involvement in child-rearing, a minimum of 2 months out of the 16 is required to be used by the "minority" parent, in practice usually the father. Bulgaria and Lithuania sound like the places to go tho, if this source is to be trusted... How do they afford it?

sausagerolemodel Mon 27-Jul-09 21:12:57

they use(d) their oil money more judiciously than we did, I gather.

anastaisia Mon 27-Jul-09 21:24:42

They also have much higher taxes - but far better services from them.

stickylittlefingers Mon 27-Jul-09 21:34:37

yes - in theory I'd be in favour of that, but I would wonder what GB and his crew would spend it on if we gave them more tax money to spend. Would it be on enlightened family-friendly policies?

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