Can a woman take paternity leave?

31st August 2012

Can a woman take paternity leave?

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This week, we have been joined by my 15 year old step son doing some work experience through school. One of the tasks that I set him was to write a blog. I asked him to answer the question of whether a woman can take  paternity leave, as I thought it might challenge some assumptions. How wrong could I be? The blog below, is his answer to the question and I was heartily pleased with the response. It is a reflection on the fact that he believes that people are just people and should be treated equally in society. I hope his views are common to his generation. 

Can a woman in a partnership with another women take paternity leave? In today’s society, same sex partnerships are perfectly normal and should be treated in the same way as a straight couple.

In the eyes of the law they are exactly that. In some circumstances a woman will be able to take paternity leave. These circumstances include where the civil partner or partner of the birth mother or adoptive mother is a woman who has, or expects to have, the main responsibility for raising the child.

Women get 52 weeks off but the partner only two. Additional Paternity Leave entitles an employed father, civil partner or partner of the mother or adopter to be able to take a maximum of 26 weeks’ leave to care for a child so long as the mother or adopter has returned to work.

But is it fair that the law dictates how much leave each are entitled to take? What if the mother gets paid more than the partner, shouldn’t they be able to swap the leave? What if the woman wants to continue in her career and the partner wants to look after the child, should this not be allowed? Should the parents not be able to to decide how long they individually take off so it works better for the family as a whole: after all each family is individual. Why can’t the family decide who takes the leave and when? If the government can decide that Additional Paternity Leave could be 26 weeks, why can’t the government simply have birth or adoption leave and allow families to decide for themselves who is best placed to take the leave.

In conclusion, of course a woman can take paternity leave, they play the same role as the father and are able to take the same time off. But should it not be that the couple should come to their own decision over who takes what leave and when. After all, they will know best what works for the family and current legislation does not tailor to every couple’s individual needs and requirements.


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