I was interviewed today on BBC West Midlands Radio about Labour and Ed Milliband’s new Paternity Proposal as a future Labour government would double the amount of paid paternity leave available to new fathers from two to four weeks, Ed Miliband has announced.
The Labour leader has also pledged to increase statutory paternity pay by more than £120 a week to £260 a week, paid for by savings in tax credits.
Some business leaders have said the £150m move amounts to a business “tax”.
A new system of shared parental leave championed by the Liberal Democrats comes into force in April.
The Lib Dems are also proposing, in future, a month’s worth of paternity leave after a child’s birth on a “use it or lose it” basis.
The Conservatives have supported greater flexibility in parental leave, arguing that all future spending policies need to pass a “families test”.
Since 2003, new fathers have been entitled to two weeks’ paid leave if they meet certain criteria, such as having worked for their employer for a defined length of time.
But Labour says only about 55% of new fathers take the full two weeks off because of financial pressures forcing them to return to work.
I am not political but research shows that dads play a crucial role in young children’s development – and that the early years are particularly important for creating a father-child bond and developing a child’s communication skills.
Fathers have a unique impact – when both parents engage children tend to do better. For example, when dads are trained in infant communication, babies’ intellectual development is greater than when only mums are trained.
Children whose fathers are highly involved in their upbringing from their earliest years are more likely to succeed academically, be more stable emotionally, and are less likely to become involved in crime and other anti-social behaviours. Today’s dads spend much more time with their young children than fathers did 30 years ago.
So I welcome any initiative that helps families bond.
I was recently speaking in India about the importance of fathers in their child’s upbringing. A Dad who is actively involved with their child from the beginning will not be absent in their teenage years and will be an important role model along with their Mum in nurturing a happy, confident, resilient child with strong self esteem.
Families need fathers.