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Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 14:56 GMT
Fathers 'need more flexible leave'
A father, mother and child in a maternity ward
From April, fathers will be entitled to two weeks paid leave
Campaigners are urging the government to allow new fathers more flexible paternity leave.

A new report argues that rules obliging fathers to take their paternity leave in one-week blocks are too rigid, preventing them from performing their share of childcare duties.

The report, authored by the Equal Opportunities Commission with the Fawcett Society and pressure group Fathers Direct, calls for a relaxation of the rules so that fathers could, for instance, take one day off a week.

"The Government's childcare strategy states that it will encourage childcare taking place within families, but fails to offer ways to achieve this," the report says, warning of an impending "crisis in childcare."

Time off

Fathers are currently allowed to take up to 13 weeks' unpaid paternity leave, and will from next April also be entitled to two weeks' paid leave, at 100 a week.

Mothers are entitled to 52 weeks maternity leave on half-pay

At present, new fathers often take leave straight after their baby is born.

As a result, they do not have sufficient leave left to help out later on if the mother wants to return to work.

Labour market

Also on Wednesday, trade secretary and minister for women Patricia Hewitt called on Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) to help encourage mothers back into the workplace by providing better childcare.

Ms Hewitt told the Daycare Trust that RDAs need to recognise "the importance of childcare in their economic strategies in terms of building a stronger labour market."

As a result, the Minister said, RDAs should ensure that suitable premises are available for childcare businesses.

See also:

23 Sep 02 | Working Lunch
06 Jun 02 | Business
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