Increasing entitlements for mothers will not reduce gender inequality. What’s needed is a rebalancing between work and home
It is a mark of how much society has moved on that a woman’s right to paid maternity leave, introduced in the UK in 1975, is now taken for granted. That fathers’ rights to time off lag so far behind, meaning that women continue to do the vast majority of unpaid domestic work and earn less money as a result, is a mark of how far we have still to go.
Labour’s announcement on Thursday that statutory maternity pay (which can be transferred to employed fathers) will under a Corbyn government be extended to a year, from nine months, is a promising signal that the party is thinking about parents and children. So is its new commitment to extend flexible working. Promises made at the same time, to introduce workplace menopause policies and extend gender pay gap reporting, appear aimed squarely at women voters – like policies from the other parties expected to follow soon.