MPs are pushing for a bill that could force businesses to publish parental leave policies

Alexandra Rogers
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Day Three Of The Liberal Democrats Annual Party Conference
Swinson helped garner support for gender pay reporting (Source: Getty)

MPs are gearing up to push through a bill that would force companies to make their parental leave policies public.

Spearheaded by the Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson, the bill will call for large companies with more than 250 employees to publish what their policies are in a manner similar to that of the gender pay gap reporting introduced last year.

Writing in The Times, Swinson said 54,000 women lose their jobs because of pregnancy and maternity discrimination each year and that fathers are reluctant to take parental leave for fear of a backlash at work.

She said that while there was "no silver bullet" to solve gender inequality, the government does have the power to improve the information available to both men and women.

Read more: MPs call on government to improve take-up of shared parental leave

"Greater transparency on parental leave and pay policies will spur employers to compete and incentivise them to offer more generous parental pay packages," she said. "Publishing this information will also allow employers to show that they’re family-friendly and use it to better attract talent.

"I am asking any employer out there who is serious about building a fairer workplace to publish information on their parental leave and pay arrangements, just as they already likely do with their equality and diversity statements and other employee benefits. It would be easy to do, and the payoff in terms of attracting and retaining talent would be totally worth it."

The government announced in January last year that from April all employers with more than 250 staff would have to publish annual figures relating to the gender pay gap, including mean and median averages for hourly pay and bonuses as well as the proportion of men and women in each pay bracket.

The exercise revealed that the gender pay gap was a problem across multiple industries, including airlines, the media and in financial services, where the gap was 91 per cent for those earning over £1m.

Read more: These companies have some of the widest gender pay gaps in the UK

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