All working parents should have 5 days of paid parental leave

05 October 2017

A report by the TUC focuses on the workplace challenges that young parents face, the inadequacy of the employment rights that are supposed to help young parents and how workplace culture needs to change to better support them.

The report from the TUC ‘Better jobs for mums and dads’ is a window into the ordinary working lives of mums and dads. Its findings won’t be news to those parents trying to give their kids a great start in life as well as do a good job at work. But it reminds the rest of us that, despite the advances of the last two decades in family-friendly rights, the combination of working and bringing up children is still too hard. And that’s doubly so for those parents who are the focus of this report: younger workers with school-age children, earning less than the UK median income, many of whom work in jobs with unpredictable hours.

During this project, the TUC heard lower income parents tell them over and again that concepts like “work-life balance”, “family friendly work” and “flexible working” didn't feel like they applied to them. They thought these were for other people – women with children who worked in offices, in better-paying jobs, who could afford to reduce their pay. When the TUC talked them through the rights that they already have in law, they didn't know about them – and worse, they couldn't imagine taking them up, because they were afraid to do so.

This report is about those mums and dads – and it’s intended to stimulate a conversation about how we change the world of work to make sure they can simultaneously be even better parents and do well at work. All the solutions proposed are grounded in what mums and dads told the TUC would really work for them.



The TUC has made a number of recommendations for the government following this extensive research, including:

  • All working parents – including zero-hours contracts workers, agency workers and those in casual work – should have access to the same rights, from day one in their jobs. This includes all family friendly rights, which are often only available to “employees”
  • Parents employed on zero or short hours should have a right to be paid a premium, in the form of overtime payments, for any non-contractual hours worked
  • All workers should be given notice of their shifts at least one month in advance. Employers should be required to pay for a scheduled shift that is cancelled at short notice, including their travel costs if they have come into work for their shift
  • All workers should receive information about their workplace rights, including the rights which will help them manage their childcare needs. Parental leave and time off for dependants should be paid. It is not affordable for many young parents to take time off unpaid.  The government should start by introducing a period of 5 days paid parental leave. It should be paid at least at the rate of the relevant National Minimum Wage rate
  • The current notice period for taking unpaid parental leave is 21 days. This should be shortened to 5 days so parents can use this leave in conjunction with the right to time off for dependants to make sure they can take care of their kids when they are sick
  • At the moment, unpaid parental leave can only be taken in blocks of one week. The TUC proposes that mums and dads should be able to take parental leave in one day slots. This is currently the case for those mums and dads with disabled children

Further details are in the full report ‘Better jobs for mums and dads’ which is about a 20 minute read.