Fiona O’Donnell – 2014 Parliamentary Question to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Fiona O’Donnell on 2014-04-08.

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the provision of statutory maternity and paternity pay to parents of premature and sick babies.

Jenny Willott

The UK’s maternity leave provision is one of the most generous in the world; all employed women have a “day one” entitlement to 52 weeks of maternity leave. Mothers with 26 weeks qualifying service and meeting the earnings requirement are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). Those mothers who do not qualify for SMP may be entitled to Maternity Allowance. This means that expectant mothers and mothers can take time off work to prepare for and recover from childbirth and bond with their babies, and to deal with unexpected eventualities including ill health, premature births and any complications associated with sick babies.

Through the Children and Families Act 2014, the Government is introducing a new system of shared parental leave which will give parents much more flexibility in how to use their leave entitlement. This flexibility will be particularly valuable to parents who have to deal with difficult or unexpected circumstances and it will allow parents, for the first time, to take leave together in a way that suits them. The system will be available for working parents whose baby is due on or after 5 April 2015 (irrespective of when the baby is born), and will be introduced later this year so that it catches babies who are born early.

The Government has committed to explicitly considering the issues facing families with babies admitted to neonatal care within the context of the review that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has announced it will undertake on the review of changes to employment law enacted by the Children and Families Act after 2018.