On the back of MPs calling for 12 weeks paternity leave, the Guardian have gone with the idea that it will help address the gender pay gap. Whilst I’m all up for having 12 weeks paternity, my question here is quite simple:
What Does The ‘Gender Pay Gap’ Have to do With This?
I’ll be honest. I would’ve loved having 12 weeks paternity leave when Isabelle was born. In total, I had six weeks off. But four of those weeks were spent on the sick due to postnatal depression. So that doesn’t exactly count. But bringing it in because it’ll help with the ‘gender pay gap’ is ridiculous.
I also don’t understand how the gender pay gap is really going to be affected if men have 12 weeks paternity at 90% of their wage. It’s hardly a significant drop. And if the main reason to bring this in is so men can earn a little less and make the gap smaller, then that’s bloody stupid. Ok, perhaps it would be brought in so women can return to work earlier and adjust the gender pay gap that way. But isn’t that what the shared paternal leave is for?
I know It’s Complicated – But the Pay Gap Is Pretty Much Bullshit
Look, the gender pay gap is a complicated issue. I honestly feel that it gets a lot of bias reporting, oversimplification and skewed figures due to the fact it’s a pretty big liberal issue. I personally don’t think it’s as bad as people make out. They make it seem that women get paid less than men for doing exactly the same job. Does that actually happen? Well it’s illegal for a start. And if it does, then I dare say there are other complicated factors in play rather than simply just ‘sexism’.
Are male footballers paid more than female footballers? Yes. Should they be? Yes. They bring more money in. It’s that simple.
It barely takes into account personal choices, individual circumstances and makes it seem that the whole country is a sexist mess. All it does for me is show that men are more likely to take on higher risk jobs, climb the career ladder, and ask for more money. Is all of that a separate issue itself? Probably. Here’s a video that does a good job talking about it:
But if this is used to bring in 12 weeks paternity leave, then that’s fine. But to correct the gender pay gap is not the real reason it should be brought in.
The Actual Reasons for 12 Weeks Paternity Leave
Here are some actual reasons to bring in 12 weeks paternity leave. There are probably plenty more. But these are just some of them.
Giving dads a chance to bond with their newborn for the first 12 weeks and actually be involved with the initial upbringing of the baby would be awesome. I know being there past that initial two weeks helped me somewhat. And I was lucky that I was in a job where I could still be home early and spend a lot of time with Isabelle. Others aren’t so lucky. For dads who have a mere two weeks, then work a regular 9-5 job with a commute, I genuinely don’t know how people expect them to form a bond and be involved. This will help dads feel more connected, and hopefully help lower postnatal depression in men.
Supporting the Mother
There’s also the added element of being able to provide support for the new mother. If this country really wants to help increase breastfeeding rates, and I think they do, then this would be one way of helping that. But not just that. There’s also the case of women who go through a caesarean and actually need the extra help after childbirth. Giving men 12 weeks paternity to be there and help with the chaos of the newborn is vital to help with a mothers mental and physical health.
It Might Encourage More Men to Take Up Shared Parental Leave
Despite the fact we never took shared parental leave, I’m all for it. We didn’t use it because it didn’t work for us. But for others it could. Giving men that initial 12 weeks paternity might then encourage them to be more involved in that first year and maybe take up the chance to share the parental leave. Some women would love to go back to work and allow the man to take over the childcare. This is something that comes down to what works best for each family.
It Might Help to Change the Culture on Gender Roles
This might be a useful thing to encourage more men to be the main caregiver of the baby. Having 12 weeks paternity might then make it more acceptable for men to alter their jobs and spend more time at home. Maybe some will prefer it and look to be stay-at-home dads. The point is, it’ll encourage more men to take an active role in the childcare, and that’s undoubtedly a good thing.
It Doesn’t Matter How – Just as Long as It’s Brought In
Look, I don’t care why they want to bring in 12 weeks paternity. I’d just be happy that it’s brought in. If it gets brought in under some weird guise of ‘sexism politics’ then that’s fine. I don’t care. The main thing is that it actually happens.
I also love the idea of it being flexible. Being able to take a few weeks at the start, then perhaps spreading out patches of weeks of would be great. It can be used for more vacation time to go away as a family. Or even used at the end of a mothers maternity (if she’s taking less than a year) to help with childcare without the worry of money.
Can we please just hurry up and bring this in though. It won’t be long before we think it’s time to start trying for another baby, and I’d really like to have 12 weeks paternity instead of 2.