Coincidently, on the same day of Sir Stuart Rose’s denial of gender inequality, it was confirmed that deatheateresque business secretary Lord Mandelson had managed to ‘delay’ the government’s proposals that would enable parents to share parental leave. The recession is being blamed for their postponement but Dark Lord and ‘businesses were not exactly fans of the measures before the economic crisis. Business’s profit 1 Individual’s rights nil.
Labour’s plans were based on a pledge they made in their 2005 election manifesto. The proposals were not perfect but they would have been a start. Both the conservatives and liberal democrats have policies for extended parental leave that actually appear to improve upon Labour’s by increasing flexibility. I prefer the Lib Dem’s policy overall (they also want to expand free children care and flexible working) but realistically I have to assume David Cameron will be moving to Downing Street in the not too distant future and pushing the tory package (greater choice in childcare = more options rich parents can pay for). It would have been interesting to see if Harriet Harman managed to get the proposals past The Dark Lord following the recession but it seems extremely unlikely that the government is going to make it that far. Instead we may have to wait to see how the tory’s policy fairs against business opposition.
In the meantime we can contact our MPs to ask them to press the government on implementing the proposals. We ask that they urge them to strengthen the equality bill. The Fawcett Society’s website has some brilliant resources for acting: letter templates and petition links on various campaigns including the equality bill, discrimination against pregnant workers and within the square mile.