Cameron: he was against paternity pay before he was in favour of it. What will his view be next month?

by Stephen Tall on January 28, 2010

‘Dads will be able to take up to six months’ paternity leave while their child’s mother returns to work, under government plans announced today,’ reports The Guardian.

The Lib Dems’ shadow children, schools and families secretary, David Laws, is deeply unimpressed with Labour’s approach:

The Government fails to understand that all families are different and need far more flexibility when it comes to parental leave. Labour seems to think it knows best when it comes to how families should arrange their lives.
 
“Instead of more rigid and complex reforms, the Liberal Democrats would introduce fully flexible parental leave which can be shared between parents as they see fit. Giving both parents meaningful time to spend with their newborn child will help families to bond and enjoy valuable time together.”

As David states, Lib Dem policy on parental leave is all in favour of flexibility for the couple concerned:

Liberal Democrats would replace maternity leave with parental leave, which could be shared between parents, and would increase this to nineteen months, to enable both parents have the full opportunity to help provide care for their babies. While mothers will obviously need to take some parental leave around the time of the birth, the remaining time could be taken by either parent, subject to neither parent taking more than one year. This would enable both parents to take at least seven months off if the full entitlement was taken up, with the precise amount of time taken by each parent to be a matter of choice for the family.

But what of David Cameron’s Tories? Well, as so often, it’s a little hard to say.

On the one hand, you have Theresa May for the Tories accusing Labour of acting “too little, too late” on the issue.

Yet her leader, Mr Cameron, is on the record attacking the idea of any big increase in paid paternity leave, telling The Sunday Times:

The suggestion for the massive extension of paternity leave owes a bit more to political correctness than the realities of life. It could be very disruptive, particularly to small business.”

And back in 2001, the Tory leader voted against introducing paternity pay as part of the second reading of the Employment Bill.

Who knows what position the Tory leader and the rest of his party will adopt once the election’s safely out of the way?