The UK ranks in the bottom four of a “groundbreaking” new index measuring parenting leave, the gender pay gap and other equality issues, a study revealed.
Sweden was top of the 21-nation “family friendly” league table, with only Switzerland, Austria and Japan below the UK, according to an analysis by the Fatherhood Institute.
Men in Sweden receive up to 40 weeks paid leave following the birth of a child, compared with two days in the UK, while 37% of the part-time workforce in Denmark is male, 13% more than in this country, said the report, which was published today.
The difference between the average earnings of men and women was 21% in the UK compared with 9.3% in Belgium, said the group.
Rob Williams, chief executive of the Fatherhood Institute said: “Despite coalition Government claims to make Britain the most family friendly country in Europe, the index proves the UK still has a long way to go.
“Despite the UK fairing well on indicators including per capita spend on childcare, taken together across all 10 indicators, the UK comes a lowly 18th out of 21 countries,” he said. “Parents’ choices are restricted by an outdated distinction between fathers as breadwinners and mothers as home-makers.
“We need to establish a better framework in the UK to support equal earning and caring. Numerous studies have shown that the old concepts of man as breadwinner and woman as home-maker are not what young couples aspire to – and that being pigeonholed into such roles damages couple relationships.
“Much more needs to be done to make families fairer, and getting the paternity leave system right is a good place to start.”
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber commented: “The male breadwinner female home-maker family model is increasingly a thing of the past, so it’s disappointing to see that workplaces are failing to catch up. The UK cannot afford to lag behind our OECD competitors on such an important issue.
“Evidence shows that close parental involvement benefits a child’s development but we need a far more father-friendly working culture, with more shared leave and flexible working, to make this possible for dads today.”