Britain announced planned changes to it’s maternity leave legislation this week. It will allow working couples to share leave after a two week ‘recovery period’ mothers must take off after birth. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that the proposals “challenge the old-fashioned assumption” that women should always be the parent that stays at home.
When I first heard the story I thought it was quite progressive but on further consideration I feel it is quite the opposite. As I know there is a similar proposed bill currently going through the Seanad I’ll explain my thoughts.
I have never heard complaint from a working mother that the current maternity leave period is too long. Once that bundle comes in to the world a working mom is torn between the need and want to nurture and care for her child and the need or necessity to progress her career. She’ll just about have it sorted in her head and her heart by the time the maternity leave is over. That a woman should always be the parent that stays at home is an old fashioned assumption I agree but in my mind maternity leave is out of bounds. Feel free to give paid paternity leave to Dads ( even a token 2 weeks would be something) but Mr Clegg and his Irish equivalents don’t underestimate the importance of that precious leave to a Mom and baby. There are many difficult decisions working mothers face, cutting their maternity leave short for the sake of their careers shouldn’t be one of them.