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Call for new ways for dads to share childcare.

A RADICAL change to parental leave arrangements is needed to make sure that fathers and lower-income parents take advantage of their rights, a new report urged today.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission said fathers should be given more leave and there should be more sharing of time off between parents.

To back up its campaign, the Commission published the findings of a survey of 4,500 parents which showed strong demand for new flexible working practices.

The Commission said it was clear there should be new ways of allowing fathers to spend more time with their children.

It today publishes a 10-year strategy which it said would result in time off being divided more equally between parents.

The report also calls for higher levels of maternity and paternity pay to increase uptake, particularly among men, lone parents and lower income groups.

The new plan would cost around pounds 5.3bn to introduce over the next decade, said the Commission.

The report said the first two weeks of paternity leave should involve 90% of pay, adding that there should be four months of dedicated parental leave which could be taken after a mother's six months of maternity leave comes to an end.

The Commission said fathers in families with an income of less than pounds 15,000 were less likely to take paternity leave.

Nicola Brewer, the Commission's chief executive, said: "Our report indicates some British employers are ahead of the legislation in terms of adopting modern ways of working, and we are heading in the right direction on flexibility.

"The challenge now is to keep up the momentum in the face of the economic downturn and extend the benefits to fit us for the upturn.

"But when it comes to modern approaches to parental leave, we may need to try a different route.

"We are proposing one of the most radical changes in our approach to parental leave in a decade.

"Changing the way we approach parental leave could be one way of tackling the gender pay gap.

"By supporting men to be good fathers as well as good employees, it would also help children to do better at school."
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 30, 2009
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