More than half of adults believe childcare should be shared equally

Research published on Tuesday 13th January 2015 has revealed a shift in attitudes towards childcare responsibilities. 53% of the adults surveyed believed that childcare duties should be shared equally between the mother and the father, whilst 22% believed that the arrangements should be decided between the couple, depending on their particular circumstances.

Notably, a higher percentage of men than women believed there was an equal responsibility for childcare.

Less than a quarter of those asked believed that childcare was the mother’s responsibility.

Employment Relations Minister, Jo Swinson said that: “This survey shows people are rejecting dated stereotypes about the roles of men and women. Parenting is a shared endeavour and couples want more flexibility when they are adapting to the demands of a new baby. Shared Parental Leave will let couples choose how to share their childcare responsibilities in whatever way works best for them, and enable both parents to spend time developing that vital bond with their baby in the early stages .”

The research was commissioned by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, before the new rules regarding parental leave are to be introduced. The new Shared Parental Leave aims to give new parents more flexibility and choice in their employment arrangements. It will mean that the parents of children expected to be born, or who are adopted, after 5th April 2015, will be able to determine how they share the weeks of leave and pay between them. 50 weeks of pay, and 37 weeks of parental leave will be able to be divided between a couple, after being agreed with their employers. The new rules also mean that it will be possible for parents to take leave at the same time as each other, and that it can be taken in at least three separate blocks.

Adults who are planning to be parents in the future were also surveyed; four in five of them said that they would consider sharing parental leave. A further two thirds of parents surveyed said that they would have considered taking up shared parental leave if it was available when their children were born; although fewer women than men shared this view (three quarters of men, and 63% of women).

Iain Atkinson, employment law specialist based in Darlington and covering Teesside, County Durham and North Yorkshire commented “The statistics are interesting.  It remains to be seen what level of uptake there will be.  In reality, despite all the legal protection that fathers have it remains to be seen whether or not they will risk the underlying prejudice that some employers may have when fathers elect to take significant parental leave to care for a new born child.”

Source: GOV.UK

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