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The Government should ensure that parents are financially rewarded when opting for Shared Parental Leave to send “a clear signal” about the role that both sexes play in bringing up children, according to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women and Work’s annual report.
The report discusses how affordability is a key part of encouraging greater uptake of SPL and it cites one proposal it received to pay Shared Parental Leave at a greater rate than Statutory Maternity Leave or for men to receive a bonus for taking parental leave – something which it says has been successfully implemented in Iceland.
The report covers a range of areas, from getting more women into male-dominated sectors to the impact of automation on women, regulating the gig economy so it works for both employers and workers and harnessing technology to increase flexible working.
With regard to schools and nurseries, it calls on the Government to issue guidance to help early years practitioners and
primary school teachers to encourage girls to express their interests where they fall outside of traditional gender stereotypes and to tackle girls’ perceptions that they lack the ability to study STEM subjects.
It also recommends that there should be a Life Skills module including digital skills and entrepreneurship embedded in the national curriculum at key stages three or four and that the Careers and Enterprise Company should define what a “meaningful encounter” with an employer during a young person’s education means by the end of 2018. It says: “Meaningful encounters should include opportunities to meet entrepreneurs, university staff, self-employed women and women role models working in sectors where women are under-represented.”
On parental leave, the report calls for all mothers, including self employed mums, to have access to Statutory Maternity Pay.
The report also focuses on training and development. It recommends that online platforms that support self-employed people, including digital platforms, should do more to support the people that work for them to undertake relevant training at work and it says the new National Retraining Scheme announced in the Autumn 2017 Budget should have a clear focus on upskilling the female workforce with in-demand skills such as digital literacy and have a specific focus on skills development for disabled women.