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Changing employers attitudes towards Maternity and Paternity rights

Employment Solicitor explains why a change in employer's attitudes towards maternity and paternity rights is desperately needed............

I can only guess at how valued employees at Ryanair must be feeling right now, after Ryanair’s Chief Executive, Michael O’ Leary, aired his views on paternity leave and working mothers in an article in the Times last week.

In respect of paternity leave, Mr O’Leary was quoted in an interview with the Times as saying, “the idea that the father can now skip off for a couple of weeks...”. Shhhhh, no-one tell Mr O’Leary that working fathers can now qualify for additional paternity leave of up to 26 weeks. In the same article, Mr O’Leary also shared his views that “most women, if given the choice, would actually stop working when they have young children”.

I wonder if Michael O’ Leary has read his company handbook which, one would hope, would set out clear and firm guidelines and policies against Discrimination and promoting equality?  

Michael O’ Leary’s comments demonstrate that, despite running a successful budget airline, he is hopelessly behind the times and out of touch with reality in respect of his employees. Many women choose to return back to work because they want to continue with their careers. His comments also highlight a real problem that men face in respect of some employers treating male employees adversely for taking paternity leave. A growing number of men want to play an active role in raising their children. Sadly, attitudes such as Michael O’Leary’s are not uncommon and highlight the barriers that both men and women can face at work when seeking to take paternity or maternity leave or request Flexible Working.   

Employees have the right to work without being treated adversely for taking maternity leave, paternity leave or because they have applied for or have been refused flexible working. Employees who think they have been subjected to adverse treatment at work should seek expert legal advice without delay.