Make parental leave provisions equal for all Powys County Council employees
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Last August my wife and I became first time parents to a beautiful and healthy daughter. We originally envisaged that I, as the father, would take the lion’s share of the leave with my wife returning to work after a couple of weeks.
I work as a youth justice worker for Powys County Council. Other parents working here, like mothers and those who have adopted, are given pay above the statutory minimum amount during their parental leave. So we assumed I could too.
But instead I was told three weeks prior to our daughter’s due date that I was not entitled to enhanced pay for my parental leave.
This meant that as a father I couldn’t afford to take time off, and missed out on spending time with my daughter during this incredibly important time in our lives.
That’s why I’ve started a petition asking for Powys County Council to ensure that all employees are offered the same enhanced benefits regardless of their gender.
The reality of this policy really hit me one day while sitting between two colleagues. One was a father who could take time off with enhanced pay to bond with his son via the Adoption Leave policy - and rightly so. My female colleague had taken Maternity Leave on three occasions and also received enhanced pay to support her to take time off. This is exactly how it should be.
But I, a biological father, was sitting in the middle and shared that I couldn’t take time off to bond with my daughter beyond two weeks because I would not get the financial support that they did.
In the year 2019 this is appalling and unfair. So I decided to launch a sex discrimination case against the council at an employment tribunal hearing. I had to represent myself against a legal department and barrister and was completely out of my depth.
Frustratingly, we lost the case. But I won’t stop fighting because I don’t want other parents to go through the same. That’s why I’m asking you to sign this petition so that Powys County Council will update their rules.
I will forever remember a quote from the respondent's barrister at the tribunal hearing. He said, "We do not live in a perfect world Mr Price!”
Just to make it abundantly clear, we are not asking for perfection. We are asking for equality. Equality for all parents to have the right to choose how their family dynamic works best in order to tailor parental leave to their own circumstances - rather than be dictated and fall in line with bygone stereotypes.
In October the council is holding a cabinet meeting. I’m hoping that the petition can be debated there so I need as many as possible to sign before then.
Annika Saarikko, Finland’s minister of family affairs and social services, one of six female ministers out of a cabinet of eleven once said, “This is not about the mother’s right or the father’s right – but the child’s right to spend time with both parents.”
Our generation has a responsibility to ensure that we make the world a better place for the next generation after us. If we do not challenge social injustice, we fail as a society.
We hope that when our daughter grows up she will look back at what her mum and dad had to go through and be proud of how far equality has come. We can only hope. If you have read this far, thank you very much and please sign this petition for the sake of future generations.
Baz, Laura & Eliza.
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