Family Lives responds to Nick Clegg's announcement

Family Lives responds to Nick Clegg's announcement: A step in the right direction but we need to do more to promote both parents sharing the care of young children

“Family Lives welcomes Nick Clegg's announcement that the government intends to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees, a recommendation that we argued for in our recent report, Family Friendly or Failing Families?  As our report argued, flexible working needs to become normalised in the workplace and extending the right to all employees is a key way to achieve this. Reserving flexible working for parents only discriminates against other workers (particularly older workers who care such as grandparents) and will likely create divisions between working parents and those without children.  We warmly welcome this aspect of the Coalition's proposals.  

Family Lives would, however, like to see the government do more to promote the sharing of care between parents.  Research in Family Friendly or Failing Families? found a clear gender divide in flexible working, with the typical working pattern of dual income couples after childbirth is for mothers to reduce and fathers increase their working hours.  For the majority of families, the burden of care and achieving work life balance falls to mothers.   As such, we are disappointed to see that the government has decided to not extend paternity leave to create a 'daddy month'.  International research clearly shows that increasing fathers' take-up of leave and subsequent participation in caring for young children is highly dependent on leaves of extended duration (more than fourteen days), combined with high income replacements.  Investing in promoting father involvement in the very early years can pay clear dividends for children's development and future outcomes and may also reduce parental stress during this crucial time when many couples are more vulnerable to separate.“

Claire Walker, Family Lives’ Director of Policy

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Notes to editors: 

1: To request a media interview with Family Lives, please contact the press office via press@familylives.org.uk or call 07525 403 642.

2: Family Lives is a national charity that works for, and with, parents. We encourage parents to see that asking for help is a sign of strength, and work with them to offer practical solutions and suggestions to manage their particular situations and difficulties. We deliver this support through an innovative range of free, flexible, responsive services - shaped by parents for parents. Our services include a free online chat service; a free confidential, helpline 0808 800 2222; Email support; parentsupport@familylivess.org.uk; parenting groups and workshops; a helpful, interactive website for parents www.familylives.org.uk; and volunteer opportunities.