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Petitions Committee investigate the impact of coronavirus on students and on maternity leave

6 May 2020

The Petitions Committee held two evidence sessions on how the coronavirus crisis is affecting students and universities, and extending paid maternity leave during the crisis.

The evidence sessions, held on Thursday 7 May, followed growing public concern about coronavirus' impact. They allowed the Committee to explore the issues raised by these petitions which might otherwise be overlooked, and to consider possible actions that could be taken to address them, on the petitioners' behalf.

The sessions were part of the Committee’s ongoing inquiry into coronavirus, prompted by Parliamentary petitions relating to the outbreak which have received more than 3.3 million signatures.




Session 1: Maternity leave and pay during coronavirus

The first session, from 2.30pm - 3.30pm, looked at maternity leave and pay during coronavirus. This followed a petition calling on the Government to 'Extend maternity leave by 3 months with pay in light of COVID-19', which gathered over 200,000 signatures.  The Committee questioned:

  • James Zammit-Garcia, petition creator
  • Jessie Zammit, petition creator
  • Bethany Power, petition signatory
  • Professor Elizabeth Meins, Department of Psychology, University of York
  • Emily Tredget, co-founder, Happity
  • Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director, Institute of Health Visiting

The Committee's questions on this issue were informed by a survey of petitioners which received over 24,000 responses, in addition to a record-breaking 24,000 comments on a House of Commons Facebook post which asked for people's experiences of maternity leave during the outbreak.


Session 2: Impact on universities and students

The second session, from 3.30pm -4:30pm, looked at the impact of coronavirus on universities and students. It followed a petition calling for universities to 'Reimburse all students of this year’s fees due to strikes and COVID-19', signed by over 330,000 people. The Committee questioned:

  • Sophie Quinn, petition creator
  • Zamzam Ibrahim, National President, National Union of Students
  • Dr Jo Grady, General Secretary, University and College Union
  • Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of Brunel University London

The Committee's questions on this issue were informed by a survey of petitioners which received over 23,000 responses, as well as comments from users of the Student Room online forum. 


Further information

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