No Image Available

Annie Hayes

Sift

Editor

Read more about Annie Hayes

Women hampered by maternity leave, says head of equality

pp_default1

The head of the equality watchdog has stirred up controversy over her remarks that women risk damaging their careers with the further extension to maternity leave.

Nicola Brewer, chief executive of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission said that the extension of paid leave from six to nine months presented an ‘inconvenient truth’ which meant that the result was fathers who were left without equal rights.

She also said that in turn it had the potentially damaging impact on women’s careers: “Has the extension from six months to nine months in paid maternity leave (and the planned extension to a year) entrenched the position of women as the primary carer and therefore the parent who pays the career ‘penalty’ for having a child?”

Reported by the Times newspaper, Katherine Rake, director of the Fawcett Society which campaigns for equality between women and men, said that she shared the commission’s concerns about the effect of legislation on women’s careers: “Under EU law employment rights once given cannot be taken away, so there is no point regretting past decisions. The Government should both better protect pregnant workers and introduce paid parental leave that supports mums and dads to share care.”

Trades Union Secretary general secretary Brendan Barber was not in agreement: “The idea that extending family-friendly rights would somehow hurt women’s job prospects is a myth commonly peddled by employers who don’t want to employ women of child-bearing age or give male staff time off to spend with their children.

“Proposals to increase flexible working rights to the parents of older children and allow up to six months of maternity leave to be transferred to fathers will help combat these entrenched views about family-friendly rights and will benefit all parents. Increasing paid parental leave will also mean more fathers are able to afford time off.”


No Image Available
Annie Hayes

Editor

Read more from Annie Hayes