Clegg and Cameron's policies are making it harder for parents to afford maternity or paternity leave - Cooper

13 November 2012

Yvette CooperYvette Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Equalities Minister, responding to Nick Clegg’s announcement on parental leave, said:

"Nick Clegg promises help for families, yet the truth is his Government is doing the opposite. Nick Clegg and David Cameron's policies are making it harder for parents to afford maternity or paternity leave, and for many workers the right to request flexible working is being undermined.

"Working mums are being hit hardest of all by cuts to tax credits, child care and child benefit. Families with children under one have lost a shocking £1,000 a year as a result of Nick Clegg and David Cameron's policies, according to the IFS. That means many parents may not be able to afford to take their full maternity or paternity leave anyway.

"Greater flexibility in maternity and paternity leave is helpful and builds on the changes Labour made before the election, which mean mothers can already swap maternity leave to fathers after six months and fathers can be much more involved with their newborn. As part of this, it is important mothers don't feel pressured by employers to return to work earlier, and that things like the importance of breastfeeding are taken into account.

"Extending flexible working is also a good thing, as everyone needs help to balance work and family life, and workplaces need to change. But the Government is actually trying to reduce flexible working with its new employee share ownership scheme. And there are still some concerns that replacing the statutory process for requesting flexible working with a code of practice may make it difficult for some workers to get a fair hearing when they make their request.

"Greater flexibility over leave and work can be really helpful for families. But Nick Clegg and David Cameron need to wake up to the real financial pressures most working families face, and stop making it harder, rather than easier, for families to manage."