Firms face scrutiny over parental leave

Large companies should be required by law to publish information on their parental leave and maternity pay policies, MPs will say today.

Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem deputy leader, is leading a cross-party push to bring a private member’s bill that would force businesses with 250 or more staff to be transparent about their arrangements.

Nicky Morgan, the former Tory cabinet minister, Harriet Harman, David Lammy and Gareth Thomas from the Labour Party, Caroline Lucas, the Green Party’s co-leader, and Alison Thewliss of the SNP are among the bill’s sponsors. Statutory maternity benefits in the UK are far less generous than in many other European nations. For the first six weeks of leave, women are entitled to 90 per cent of their regular pay, while in the subsequent 33 weeks they are entitled to £145.18 a week.

The government introduced shared parental leave in April 2015, but while 285,000 couples are eligible each year, take-up is estimated to be as low as 2 per cent. The financial implications are thought to be partly to blame because although you can share 37 weeks of pay entitlement (at a maximum of £145.18 a week), fathers are not entitled to six weeks at 90 per cent pay.

Many companies offer more generous packages but fail to publicise their arrangements. Ms Swinson said that forcing big companies to be more transparent would give them an incentive to improve their offer.

She said: “Each year 54,000 women lose their jobs because of pregnancy and maternity discrimination, and men cite concern about negative treatment in the workplace as a significant barrier to taking shared parental leave.

“Asking large companies to publish information about their parental leave and pay policy is a simple, light-touch regulatory change that would have significant benefits. Greater transparency would reduce the risk of discrimination in the recruitment process and encourage employers to improve their parental pay policies.”

About Steve Young

Steve Young is the Managing Partner of Downtown Recruitment who are based in Thame, Oxfordshire. Downtown Recruitment provide a wide variety of temporary and permanent staff to the local area covering a wide range of disciplines across the commercial and industrial sectors. View Downtown Recruitment's main website
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