Occasional reflections on Life, the World, and Mathematics

Losing sleep


One thing that surprised me when I moved to the UK was the lack of any significant paternity leave. It seemed peculiar, in this century, for the government to have a policy of making space for new parents to take care of their newborn children without losing their jobs, but to be insisting that the care must be provided by the mother. It seemed even more peculiar that otherwise progressive employers, that go beyond the statutory minimum in providing leave for new mothers, rarely seemed to extend any protection to fathers. (Oxford, in particular, provides on its own initiative leave for fathers who adopt a child, but not when a child is born.)

This has now changed. The government passed a shared parental leave law that now comes into effect. Not everyone is happy about it, though:

The Institute of Directors has previously warned the new law could create a “nightmare” for employers.

I’m not particularly prone to nightmares, but those I have had almost never involved men taking care of their infant children while the mothers returned to work. At least, not primarily. Perhaps a different cliché would have been more appropriate here.

As a sign of how much difficulty journalists have keeping the UK’s constitutional arrangements straight, the article concludes with

Parental leave is a devolved issue in Northern Ireland but the Northern Ireland Assembly passed a bill offering parents the same rights as in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Scotland didn’t even vote to secede, but it’s already forgotten…

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