The report made a number of recommendations and the Government's responses to these were issued on 14 June 2018. According to the Government "Many of the Committee's recommendations are far reaching, would involve a radical change in policy direction or, as is the case with issues around employment status, sit with other complex issues where parallel work is underway." Some key recommendations of the Committee and Government responses are as follows:
- Antenatal appointments
1. Recommendation : Fathers should be entitled to a "day one" right to paid time off to attend up to two antenatal appointments with their partner (as opposed to the present right to unpaid time off only). Agency workers should be entitled to unpaid time off from day one, and paid time off after being engaged for 12 weeks or more.
Response: The Government has rejected this recommendation taking the view that the current statutory position " strikes the right balance" between the employer's and the father's interests.
2. Recommendation: The Government should consider increasing the 2 antenatal appointment limit.
Response: The Government will consider lifting the restriction on the number of appointments in cases involving multiple births.
- Paternity leave and pay
1. Recommendation: Fathers who are employees should be entitled to 2 weeks' paid paternity leave as a "Day 1" employment right. Agency worker fathers should be eligible for paternity pay and paternity allowance.
2. Recommendation: The statutory rate of paternity pay should be increased to 90% of the father's pay (capped for higher earners) to reflect more closely maternity pay provisions.
Response to 1 and 2 : The Government believes a debate is necessary to consider whether the potential benefits warrant the higher level of public costs and recommend that the new edition of the Maternity and Parental Rights Survey should gather information required for the debate.
- Shared parental leave and pay
Recommendation: The Government should consider replacing the existing shared parental leave and pay policy with an alternative policy that would see fathers (both employees and agency workers) enjoying a 12- week paternal leave entitlement, to be taken in the first year of the child's birth. This should be paid at 90% of pay for 4 weeks and at the statutory rate for the remaining 8 weeks. This entitlement should not affect mothers' existing entitlements to maternity leave and pay
Response: The Government recommends that as part of its review of shared parental leave in 2018 it will undertake an analysis of the costs and benefits of such an alternative policy.
- Equality Act 2010
Recommendation: Consider amending the Equality Act 2010 to add an additional protected characteristic of "paternity".
Response: The Government doesn't appear to have provided any clear response to this simply stating that they will monitor the results of the planned 2018 Maternity and Paternity Rights Survey to "gain a greater understanding of the experience of working fathers."
- Flexible Working
Recommendation: The Government should legislate immediately to ensure that all jobs are advertised as flexible from day one, unless there are legitimate business reasons not to.
Response: The Government rejected this recommendation advocating a voluntary approach on this pending the evaluation due to take place in 2019 of the flexible working legislation.
To conclude, the Government's response to the "Father's in the Workplace" report rejects many of the Committee's recommendations and defers consideration of the majority of the remainder. The Chair of the Committee has however stated that "there is some encouragement that ministers recognise the need for a debate about the costs and benefits of modernising workplace support for fathers and families" and that they will continue to press for reform.