London, Feb 4 (PTI) The UK government will table a new bill in Parliament on Thursday to allow Cabinet ministers to be able to go on maternity leave for six months on full pay.
The Ministerial and other Maternity Allowances bill, to be tabled by Cabinet Office minister Penny Mordaunt, will cover ministers and holders of Opposition offices on maternity leave and is expected to immediately impact Goan-origin Cabinet minister Suella Braverman who is expecting a child in the coming weeks. Braverman, the government’s senior-most legal officer as UK Attorney General, is expected to become the first high-profile government minister who would be able to make use of the new law.
The 40-year-old has previously used the parliamentary system of proxy voting while serving as a backbench Conservative parliamentarian when she gave birth to her first child in July 2019. Now, it is expected that the new law would be in place in time for when she gives birth to her second child.
The new bill is intended to formalise a process for ministers taking maternity leave that until now has been granted at the discretion of the prime minister. According to UK media reports, under current laws, a Cabinet minister would have had to resign or split duties to be able to take an extended time off. The new law intends to align the rules on maternity pay for Cabinet ministers with more junior government roles and the civil service.
The UK government has indicated it intends to pass all stages of the ministerial and other maternity allowances bill in the House of Commons next week, which will then go on for approval by the House of Lords.
The Opposition is supporting the law, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer saying the change 'should have been brought in a long time ago'.
Under the general rules applicable to regular employees in the UK, women are entitled to up to 52 weeks' maternity leave, including some specifically ear-marked for the weeks right after the baby’s birth. Under paternity leave rules, fathers can take two weeks' statutory leave and there is also scope for some shared parental leave. PTI AK SCY SCY