Both parents should each get six weeks of paid leave after having a baby, the Women's Equality (WE) party has said.
The new party called for a "fully equal" system of parental leave that would allow fathers to spend more time with their children. Under the plans, parents would each get six weeks off work at 90% of pay, as well as an extra 10 months of shared leave at statutory pay.
The proposal was unveiled to BuzzFeed News ahead of the party's official policy launch next Tuesday. At the moment, new fathers are allowed just two weeks of paid paternity leave and then can share 50 weeks of leave with their partner.
The Women's Equality party, which claims to have 45,000 members and supporters, was founded earlier this year by journalist Catherine Mayer and TV host Sandi Toksvig. The party is pushing for equal representation across politics, business, and industry, as well as equal pay, equal parenting and caregiving, equal treatment of women by the media, and an end to violence against women.
The parental leave policy aims to give both men and women "greater freedom to participate fully in the home and the workplace". It would also apply to same-sex couples and adoptive parents, and would allow single parents to nominate a second caregiver with whom they could share leave.
Party leader Sophie Walker said: "Too many fathers feel they can't take time off work to look after their children because current rates of paternity pay are unaffordable and because our society stigmatises men who perform caring roles as weak or unmanly."
Walker said the Women's Equality party – aka WE – wants to "liberate men and women from the current enforced patterns of work and caring".
She added: "WE want to give women who wish to go back to work the freedom to do so and we recognise that too many men are excluded from the lives of their children because of old-fashioned gendered expectations."
The party also wants new fathers – and other co-parents – to have 24/7 access to maternity and postnatal wards, rather than being "treated as ordinary visitors". Fathers would also be given paid time off to attend antenatal scans.
Baby-changing facilities should be equally available to all genders in public buildings, the party said. And all government publications and services should make clear that child-raising is a "whole family responsibility".
This would discourage the use of terms like "mum and baby group" rather than "parent and baby group". The party said it would also challenge media representations of fathers as "hopeless, bumbling or unfit for caring roles".
Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Emily Ashton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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