Parental leave issues


There have been many discussions in England about maternity/paternity leave and if a change in how it works should be soon to come.

As it stands now, women get up to a year off work (but you can only claim pay for 39 weeks) when they have had or adopted a child. Men get two weeks.

Few companies pay extra on top of the statutory £138.

When I was on my maternity leave a few years ago I received £129 a week in pay, but after tax this was £88 - which didn't leave much as this was far below what I normally earned.

When my husband was on paternity leave he only got two weeks, and at a reduced pay. He then took another two weeks off in holiday pay, because we didn't feel I could cope with a newborn and a two year old at the time.

And this is it, isn't it. WHY are women forced to stay at home? In our family it works, as my children come first to me. I rather be poor, but knew I was there for them, than absent and well off.

Question is - what IF, I wanted to work? What IF my career was more important, while my husband was stuck in a low paid, deadbeat job (might not be low paid, but deadbeat it is!)? Why doesn't the government let us use the leave however we choose?

In Sweden we do. We have 480 days at our disposal, to share and use however we want to. If the woman wants to work, then good for her. She has this right. Each parent, however, has to be home with the child for 60 days. That is the minimum we say that a child needs to see of each parent. Considerably more than two weeks over here, in England.

There does need to be a change. Not only in how the leave is shared, but also in how much money should be paid out.

My husband gets full pay for months if he would be off sick, but he only gets the statutory paternity pay. This tells me, that sickness is more important than the right to be with your children.

So even if the share changes, he wouldn't be able to afford over a thousand pounds to stay home. Neither would any woman in a full time job. Why should women get less than men? I thought the world had changed towards fairness and not discriminate between the genders.

This effectively means, that when a woman has a child she does sell her own rights, her freedom, the right to her own money. Even if she used to be an executive manager, she must now find her place in the home, living off her man's minimum wage - which by the way, won't pay the bills, as this used to be her responsibility.

After six weeks, they realise that statutory maternity pay of £90 a week after tax won't pay anything, she has to go back to work. She is the main bread winner.

In this society no one wins. No one has it better. Someone has to lose.

I believe the time MUST be shared, however each family wishes. And parental pay needs to rise. It has to be enough and equal to what a person would earn anyway.

Hopefully some of these changes will take affect next year - meaning sharing is for everyone!

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