Jessica Chivers has launched a petition for a MATB1 form for dads to encourage more conversations between employers and dads about Shared Parental Leave.
How can we increase uptake of Shared Parental Leave without changing the existing legislation? One campaigner is proposing a relatively simple way to do so: give expectant dads a form similar to the MATB1 form, informing their employer that they are going to become a dad.
The current MATB1 form is given to women by their midwife. Mums then give the form to their employer to inform them of their pregnancy and their wish to take maternity leave.
There is no equivalent for dads.
Coach Jessica Chivers first mentioned a ‘DADB1’ form about 18 months ago in a LinkedIn post entitled ‘If employers really want men to take SPL, here’s how’. The post was in response to the low levels of take-up reported for SPL – one report put take-up at just 2%.
Jessica followed up with a blog post in November specifically on a ‘DADB1’ form and decided to start lobbying to make it happen.
One route is to get an MP to champion it and set up a debate about it. Another is to go down the petition path. If petitions get 10,000 signatures the Government has to respond to them. If they get 100,000 signatures they will be debated in Parliament.
Jessica says that, in the absence of increasing funding for Shared Parental Pay or a change in the legislation to guarantee leave for dads, the ‘DADB1’ form offers a simple, relatively low-cost tweak which could open up conversations about leave for dads.
“Handing in the form would allow HR to swing into action to start the conversation about Shared Parental Leave, letting men know what is available. So many men do not have that conversation. It would help shape a culture where men expect to be involved in ante-natal visits and to take leave,” she says.
Having the form would also allow employers to collect better data on dads. One of the things that was clear when SPL came in was that employers didn’t know who were dads in their organisations or anything about their expectations or needs for support.
Jessica believes the form could be part of a general push to promote better policies around parental leave. This includes Jo Swinson’s proposal that, similar to the gender pay audits, companies with over 250 employees should publish their parental leave policies on their websites so candidates are fully aware of what they offer.
She adds that it is part of an ongoing attempt to unpick processes and legislation that assume that mothers are the main carers of children, enabling dads to become more involved. “This petition puts these kinds of issues right under the noses of those in authority,” she says.
She believes it will only require a change in the wording of the current MATB1 form and ensuring that expectant mothers are given a duplicate form for their partner, if they have one.
Jessica says: “The ‘DADB1’ form is a simple, pragmatic step towards growing the number of men taking SPL by kickstarting early conversations between expectant fathers and their employers.”
The petition has until 15th May to get 10,000 signatories. You can sign it here.