Bar Council Annual Report 2016-17

Aim 5 - Supporting family carers

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Supporting family carers

In 2016-17, the Bar Council continued to push for more equal family policies at the Bar with the aim of supporting barristers with caring responsibilities, and to retain more women in the profession.

A survey of the profession in 2013 revealed that 57% of women at the Bar with children were primary carers compared to just 4% of men[1]. In 2015 a series of Bar Council focus groups[2] with women in the profession found that factors such as a) having a partner who acts as a primary carer and b) working in chambers that support those with family caring responsibilities can play a significant role in helping women to stay in the profession.

Shared Parental Leave

In February 2017, the Bar Council gave public backing to Bar Standards Board proposals to allow self-employed barristers access to equal parental leave entitlements provided by chambers, regardless of how their partners use theirs.

The rule change (agreed by the BSB in May 2017) will allow barristers to share parenting, by allowing them to take whatever leave they want up to a whole year, without having to compromise the other parent's ability to also take a whole year of parental leave.

Responses to the consultation led the BSB to conclude that the changes would help the Bar to retain those with parental responsibilities by making it easier for self-employed barristers to combine work and family life, and could help with efforts to encourage more gender diversity within the profession, especially at the senior end.

Family career breaks seminar

In March 2017, the Bar Council produced a seminar for barristers, clerks, Equality and Diversity Officers, and other chambers staff on family career breaks. The aims of the seminar were to: advise on how to navigate chambers’ policies; explore ways of managing leaving and returning to work; and support best practice in chambers and compliance with BSB rules.

Maternity mentoring

In 2016, the Bar Council introduced a Maternity Mentoring Scheme to support barristers who are either contemplating a career break, are currently on parental leave, or are returning to practice.

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Luke Robins-Grace
Senior Communications Adviser 
0207 630 4689