The Daily Telegraph
UK paternity leave fails the European equality test
PATERNITY leave in the UK is the least generous in Europe, a study has found, with policies “implicitly matriarchal”.
The study of 47 nations’ branded the UK the “laggard” in Europe with a leave policy that eschewed gender equality for the idea that women should be the main carers of young children.
This “matriarchal” approach stemmed from the Government’s decision to put maternity leave of 52 weeks at the heart of its parental leave policies, said Peter Moss, the UCL emeritus professor of early childhood provision who led the research.
This was the longest maternity leave of any of the 47 nations but it was also the worst paid with 46 of the 52 weeks at a flat rate of £151.97 or unpaid for the last 13 weeks.
By contrast, European countries tended to give new mothers between three and four months of leave at full pay or 80 to 90 per cent of the woman’s salary, said Prof Moss.
Paternity leave is up to two weeks, paid at a flat rate of £151.97 per week or 90 per cent of average weekly earnings if that is less.
“Our leave policy hangs around a very long maternity leave period which is based on the fact that for the first year of life the appropriate carer should be the mother than accepting that it could be shared,” said Prof Moss.
“The normal pattern of other countries is to go for short well-paid [leave] where we have gone for long but patchily paid.”