Government launches ads for dads

Mar 06 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Trade and Industry Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, today launched a

national advertising campaign to encourage fathers with young

children to make the most of new laws to help parents balance

childcare with work, which come in on April 6 2003.

British men now work some of the longest hours in Europe and are less

aware of flexible working policies than women, despite the fact that

two-thirds would like the chance to work flexibly when necessary. A

fifth of British men have visited the doctor because of stress and

stress-related absence costs British industry around £7.1 million

every week.

Under the new laws, working parents with children under 6, or

disabled children under 18, will have the legal right to get their

employer to consider requests for flexible working to help them

balance their careers with childcare. This new right will apply to

both fathers and mothers.

New fathers will also have the right to two weeks paid paternity

leave, for the first time ever. Maternity pay and leave has also been

increased so that new mothers will get six months paid leave at £100

a week, and can take an additional six months unpaid if they want it.

60% of UK companies - most of them small firms - will be fully

reimbursed by the Government for the maternity pay they pay out.

There will be similar new rights for parents who adopt children.

Trade and Industry Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, said:

"It is vital that we raise public awareness about the new employment

rights if they are to be successful - especially the new paternity

rights and flexible ways of working. "We know from successful

businesses that promoting flexible working improves recruitment and

retention, reduces absenteeism and increases staff motivation and

performance and the best companies are already doing it.

"It could take up to 20 years for best practice to change the

deep-rooted long hours work culture that still exists in many

organisations and parents should not have to wait that long. That's

why we have introduced the new legislation to speed things up.

"But we will only succeed in changing the macho culture if fathers

are taken seriously and take up flexible working and paternity leave.

I urge men at the top of business, who are in the majority, to take

the lead in helping create a new work culture."

The adverts are scheduled to run from 25 February to 5 April, across

national, trade, consumer and ethnic press as well as online media.

The awareness campaign is set to continue later in the year.