Could mandatory parental-leave reporting become reality?

Ahead of a second reading of the Parental Leave and Pay Arrangements Bill next week, a new survey shows public support for greater openness around family-friendly policies.

Image of business people supporting carers and parental leavel
Parenting forum, Mumsnet, has launched a campaign to back deputy Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson’s government Private Members' Bill.The Parental Leave and Pay Arrangement (Publication) Bill 2017-19 seeks to require employers of more than 250 people to publish their maternity, paternity, adoption leave and pay policies, and therefore help people make more informed choices about which employer and roles would suit their plans for balancing work and family life.The Bill's second reading comes on 15 March comes in the week after International Women’s Day (IWD) on Friday 8 March 2019. This year’s IWD theme, Balance for Better, promises global action and discussion on more inclusive ways of enabling everyone to achieve their potential at work and in society at large, including fathers.

Fear of discrimination holds careers back

Highlighting the scale of the stigma around parental leave in the UK that HR, employers and employees face, a Mumsnet survey of 1,114 forum users found 82% are reluctant to ask potential employers about parental leave policies for fear it would make a job offer less likely.Two-thirds also say they have avoided asking about parental leave policies at interview stage. A further 57% say they have avoided asking about parental leave policies after a job offer; and 40% have avoided asking about parental leave policies even after being employed.With the gender pay gap a highly nuanced issue where differentials between men and women's average pay vary across industry, age, number of children and level of education, Mumsnet’s survey suggest parents could be counting themselves out of certain roles, sectors and responsibilities because of a lack of clarity around working conditions and fear of discrimination, which could be perpetuating ingrained pay imbalances. 

Can greater transparency on flexible working policies fix the gender pay gap?

A key driver of the gender pay gap is that women tend to spend more time out of the labour market and work part-time due to caring responsibilities. However, family-friendly policies – including enhanced parental leave, flexible working and additional childcare provision – enable more equal sharing of work and childcare between men and women so that both can fulfil their potential at work.Seeking more openness from employers on their flexible work policies, Justine Roberts, Mumsnet founder, said: “Women thinking about starting or adding to their families are finding it impossible to make informed judgements about job offers, and dads who want to play their full part are increasingly finding themselves in the same position.“They’re in a double-bind, because even asking the question can mean they go no further in an application process."Requiring large companies to publish their policies is a small, cost-free change that puts power back in the hands of jobseekers. As with gender pay gap reporting, this sort of public accountability celebrates employers with inclusive policies, powerfully incentivises others to be better – and allows parents to decide which job ads just aren’t worth their time.’ 

Simple and easy steps for all employers’

Employers have a key role in supporting employees balance for better and in so doing closing the gender pay gap. “Four in five people say they wouldn’t be comfortable asking about parental pay at interview, and my Bill would mean they could find the information without having to ask," said Jo Swinson as Mumsnet gave its backing to her Bill that would require large employers to publish their parental leave policies. "This is an easy and simple step that all employers can take to create a more supportive culture for new parents.“If we are serious about tackling discrimination against new parents and pregnant women, this is one small but important change that is needed."Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory