EOC welcomes Hewitt's family proposals but calls for long-term strategy


EOC welcomes Hewitt's family proposals but calls for long-term strategy

Patricia Hewitt's ideas for introducing further changes to employment rights are good news for Britain's working families, according to the Equal Opportunities Commission. But the EOC urged the government to do more by building on these specific ideas to create a comprehensive National Family Strategy.

Julie Mellor, chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), said: "We welcome the manifesto ideas outlined by Patricia Hewitt [trade and industry secretary]. Increasing paternity pay so that fathers receive 90% of their earnings will give more fathers the opportunity to take leave around the time of the birth of their new baby. Early evidence suggests fathers are using paid holiday rather than taking parental leave at £102 a week.

"We also welcome the idea of giving parents more choice about how to share the responsibility for looking after a baby and earning family income in the first year. But the proposal to open up some of the current maternity leave to fathers will not do that unless both parents are paid 90% of their salary. As fathers often earn more than their partners, families cannot afford to sacrifice their income.

"But we should not lose sight of the fact that parents need a step-change in the support available to help them juggle working and caring, not just incremental change. We need to see Labour setting its specific manifesto proposals in the context of a comprehensive National Family Strategy that would join up policies and initiatives to create something families -- and those who employ them -- can really see and trust."

Want to know more

For more information visit the Equal Opportunities Commission's web site at www.eoc.org.uk

Posted 7 October 2004