Report: Petitions Committee calls for Government to extend parental leave and pay for new parents in light of COVID-19
6 July 2020
More than 226,000 people have signed an e-petition calling for the Government to extend maternity leave by 3 months with pay in light of Covid-19. The Committee received over 69,000 responses with people sharing their experiences and views on the Government's response, and on the actions they think need to be taken. The Committee has heard from new parents who have found that their jobs are at risk as they are unable to find childcare, from parents whose mental health has been severely affected, and from parents who are desperate for help and support.
The report finds that there are many more areas where the Government needs to consider taking urgent action. The Petitions Committee has submitted the report for consideration, and expect to receive a prompt response from the Government on this urgent issue.
Key findings and recommendations made in the report include:
- New parents have missed out on crucial support, the lack of which could have a huge impact on their mental health and that of their children, with resulting impacts on the NHS and the UK economy;
- The Government should extend parental leave and pay for all new parents affected by the pandemic. This includes maternity leave, shared parental leave and adoption leave;
- The Government should publish clear new guidance for employees and employers on supporting pregnant employees and those returning from parental leave that explains clearly their options and responsibilities;
- The Government should consider extending the period in which pregnant women and new parents may bring claims before the employment tribunal to 6 months from dismissal in light of current challenges posed by Covid-19;
- Free dental care is an important benefit that most pregnant and new mothers have been unable to access as the result of the pandemic. The Government should extend maternity dentist provision for new and expectant mothers affected by the pandemic for at least six months;
- The Government should review the provision of health visitor services in light of Covid-19 and consider funding increased numbers of health visitors and other allied professionals, to ensure that vulnerable families are identified and given the support they need;
- The Committee strongly urges the Government to follow the science and stay alert to how the Government supports new parents so that the effects of the pandemic do not continue to impact families for years to come.