The Women and Equalities Select Committee has published a report recommending reforms to legislation to improve fathers’ rights to paid time off and flexible working.

The report recommends that paternity pay becomes a day one right for fathers with an increase in statutory paternity pay to 90% of (capped) earnings. It highlights the cumbersome nature of shared parental leave and recommends a right for fathers to take 12 weeks off during the first year after birth on statutory paternity pay (with an initial period of 4 weeks paid at 90% of earnings). It proposes that fathers should be paid for time taken to attend antenatal appointments. It also asks that paternity be considered as an additional protected characteristic under the Equality Act.

The Select Committee noted that outdated cultural assumptions about gender roles persist in society and that changes are needed to the legal framework to help to create equality both at home and in the workplace. The report makes a link between poor protection for fathers under employment law and the gender pay gap. A working culture in which fathers are able (financially and practically) to take a more active role in childcare is likely, it is suggested, to lead to greater equality between men and women.