UK to bring in maternity leave for ministers

By: AFP      Published: 09:53 PM, 4 Feb, 2021
UK to bring in maternity leave for ministers

The British government is to introduce paid maternity leave for senior ministers for the first time as Downing Street on Thursday admitted the current rules were outdated. 

The bill was drawn up because the government's top legal officer, Attorney General Suella Braverman, is due to have a baby shortly. 

She is believed to be the most senior woman in the Cabinet to give birth.

But under existing rules, she would have to resign or hand her responsibilities over to be split between several others, The Times daily wrote.

A Downing Street spokesman said the "current rules are clearly outdated and need fixing".

The new legislation will enable women to take six months' leave while being paid their ministerial salary. 

It is supported by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove.

On Thursday, the bill was to have a first reading without debate in the House of Commons.

Labour politician Yvette Cooper has said she was the first to take maternity leave while in a ministerial role in the early 2000s.

"There weren't any rules at all," she wrote in the Guardian daily in 2018, saying she had to make ad hoc arrangements, experiencing "insecurity and dependence on other people’s goodwill".

Under current rules, MPs do not have a right to paid maternity leave

Proxy voting was brought in after Labour MP Tulip Siddiq had to delay a Caesarian section in 2019 and arrived in a wheelchair to take part in a Brexit vote.

Labour MP Stella Creasy in 2019 became the first MP to hire a locum to work on her behalf in her constituency.

The prime minister said he planned to take paternity leave after the birth of his son in April last year but delayed it because of the coronavirus crisis.