Written evidence submitted by Ellie Reeves MP (PVX 01)

On 30th October 2019 my original submission to the proxy voting enquiry, which I am attaching for reference, was published.[1]

I make this further submission having now started my proxy vote. My experience is that the scheme is deeply flawed and needs urgent reform. 

I commenced my proxy vote on 29th October. This was a couple of days before my due date, which was the latest I could commence it so I didn’t feel it would make a great deal of difference by that stage. Unfortunately, I had to return to work the following day as the general election was called. In effect, I had one day’s maternity leave.

My baby was due on 3rd November (the latest I could commence my proxy under the scheme) and Parliament was dissolved on 5th November, at which stage I was no longer an MP. Due to being in the middle of an election campaign I worked right up until my baby was born on 11th November. I returned to some work within a day or two of having my baby and two weeks after he was born, I was back.

I was also told that in order to reactivate my proxy I would have to go to Parliament to swear in. I did that on 18th December. It is therefore only at that point, with my baby almost 6 weeks old, that I was able to start my maternity leave.

Despite this, I was informed that the clock would be ticking on my 6-month proxy vote period despite the fact that:

1. Parliament was dissolved

2. I was not an MP

3. I had not been able to take any real maternity leave.

My proxy vote will expire on 28th April so I would have had less than 4.5 months maternity leave rather than 6. My baby will be less than 5 and a half months old when I will be forced back to work. This is completely out of step with maternity rights outside of Parliament. It is also causing me a great deal of anxiety, distress and upset.

The irony is that originally, I calculated that my due date was 11th November, but the hospital brought it forward by 8 days to 3rd November. If my due date had remained on 11th November it would have fallen within the period of dissolution and as such, I would not have had to commence my proxy until Parliament had returned and I had sworn in. Therefore, I would have got the benefit of the full 6 months and would not have to return until 18th June.

I am attaching as part of this submission various news articles where I talk about the extraordinary situation of the clock ticking on my maternity leave despite the fact that Parliament was dissolved, and I hadn’t taken any leave.

Daily Mail 31/10/19: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7634339/Labour-MP-Lewisham-West-Penge-Ellie-Reeves-MP-one-day-maternity-leave-election-call.html

i Newspaper 1/11/19: https://inews.co.uk/opinion/maternity-leave-mps-general-election-2019-ellie-reeves-824719

Mirror 7/12/19: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/labours-ellie-reeves-takes-new-21046614

Furthermore, since late February I have returned to some daytime constituency work such as casework, surgeries, meeting local groups and campaigning. The flexibility of these work activities means I can look after my new-born as well as attend to these duties and I am very happy with this situation.

However, the current structure of Parliamentary voting does not offer the same amount of flexibility. The times when votes take place are the exact times, I am breastfeeding my son, putting him to bed as well as looking after my other son returning from school. I want to be able to do this for my children for the full 12 months as I would receive in a workplace outside of Parliament and I firmly believe this option should be offered to all new mothers.

With all of this in mind I therefore ask the committee to urgently review the following:






[1] Note by the Clerk: The submission made by Ellie Reeves MP to the Procedure Committee’s review in the 2017 Parliament (PVR 10) is published here: http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/procedure-committee/proxy-voting-review-of-pilot-arrangements/written/106525.pdf