In the last five years progress to close the gender pay gap has slowed. Stagnating wages and rising insecurity have fuelled a cost of living crisis that has hit women hard, and under the Tories £6 in every £7 raised from the tax and benefit changes have come from women’s pockets.
We believe that we need to do more to ensure support for families reflects the realities of modern family life.
That’s why Labour’s Women’s Manifesto, launched today in London, recognises the vital role that grandparents play in looking after their grandchildren when parents are at work.
Parents are increasingly relying on other family members to help them juggle work and childcare, particularly grandparents. More than half of all mothers rely on grandparents for childcare when they first go back to work after maternity leave, while two-thirds of grandparents with grandchildren aged under-16 provide some childcare.
However public policy hasn’t kept up with the reality of families’ lives, with 1.9 million grandparents giving up a job, reducing their hours, or taking time off work to look after their grandchildren. Seven in 10 grandparents say the caring contribution they make is not currently recognised.
To help grandparents help their families and stay in their jobs, Labour will consult on what flexibilities would work make the system work better for families and businesses given changing patterns of care, including allowing grandparents who want to be more involved in caring for their grandchildren to share in parents’ unpaid parental leave.
Currently parents can claim a total 18 weeks unpaid parental leave, up to four weeks in any given year, for each child and adopted child, up to their 18th birthday. The stated aim of this unpaid leave is to support family life, while protecting parents’ employment rights. It can be taken in blocks of one-week at a time. But at the moment you have to be a parent or to have legal parental responsibility to access this.
Labour’s proposal, which we are consulting on, would allow parents to transfer this leave to a grandparent. This would support grandparents to take time off work to help look after a grandchild without fear of losing their job, and is further evidence of Labour’s commitment to support working families.
The next Labour Government will ensure women get a fair deal at work, by tackling low pay, strengthening the law on maternity discrimination and requiring large companies to report on the gender pay gap. We will support women and men to balance their work and family commitments by extending free childcare for working parents and doubling paid paternity leave.
Labour’s women’s manifesto sets out measures to:
* Tackle low pay, by increasing the minimum wage to more than £8 by October 2019.
* Tackle the gender pay gap with new pay transparency rules for all large employers.
* Extend free childcare from 15 to 25 hours a week for working parents of three and four-year-olds.
* Guarantee access for parents of primary-age children to 8am-6pm wraparound childcare through primary schools.
* Protect the Sure Start budget and open up an additional 50,000 childcare places.
* Double paid paternity leave from two to four weeks, and increase pay to the equivalent of a full weeks work at the National Minimum Wage so that more families can take up their entitlements.
* Support healthy relationships by introducing age-appropriate compulsory sex and relationship education.
* Tackle violence against women and girls by appointing a new commissioner to enforce national standards on tackling domestic and sexual abuse, strengthening the law and providing more stable central funding for women’s refuges and Rape Crisis Centres.
To read the women’s manifesto in full, click here