Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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What the Petitions Committee is doing

Petition Extend maternity leave by 3 months with pay in light of COVID-19

In light of the recent outbreak and lock down, those on maternity leave should be given 3 extra months paid leave, at least. This time is for bonding and social engaging with other parents and babies through baby groups which are vital for development and now everything has been cancelled.

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These groups are vital for baby development, bonding and educating both babies and parents. Given that the government have closed down many areas of the community new parents and babies are confined to their homes with no social interaction which will ultimately impact on the development of children.

We are calling on Boris Johnson and the government to extend paid maternity leave by an additional 3 months, at least to allow for this development and bonding to take place.

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100,000

Parliament will consider this for a debate

Parliament considers all petitions that get more than 100,000 signatures for a debate

Waiting for 41 days for a debate date

Government responded

This response was given on 14 May 2020

The UK’s Maternity Leave offer is already amongst the most generous in the World – up to 52 weeks of leave are available, 39 weeks of which are paid – and we currently have no plans to extend it.

During this difficult time for the country, we recognise the disruption the necessary actions are having on people’s lives, their businesses, their jobs and the nation’s economy

That is why the Government has put in place unprecedented support for public services, workers and businesses to protect against the current economic emergency. This includes the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme that helps protect people’s jobs and helps employers to still provide important benefits such as enhanced contractual maternity pay.

We have made regulations to ensure women will not lose out on Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) should they be affected by a period of furlough pay. The regulations require employers to calculate SMP on normal earnings rather than reduced pay. It is also possible for employers to offer furlough pay at the end of a woman’s maternity leave and pay period, in effect extending the period a woman is away from work.

We understand that the social distancing measures mean that there are limited opportunities for parents to participate in activities normally available, such as parent and baby groups or introducing their newborn to family friends. This is regrettable but necessary to help safeguard the health of individuals, including other new mothers and babies.

Maternity Leave and Pay are provided to enable employed women to take time off work in the later stages of their pregnancy and after they have given birth. In addition, the UK’s Maternity Leave offer is already amongst the most generous in the world, with up to 52 weeks leave available and 39 weeks of pay. Therefore, we currently have no plans to extend Maternity Leave.

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Other parliamentary business

Petitions Committee to put concerns about impact of lockdown on parents and babies to the Government

The Petitions Committee will be questioning the Government on the impact of coronavirus on those on parental leave in an upcoming online evidence session. More details will be announced shortly.

This session continues the Committee’s ongoing inquiry into the Government’s response to Coronavirus. The Committee’s questions to the Government have been informed by unprecedented levels of engagement from petitioners and other members of the public on this issue, particularly the impacts on maternal mental health, childcare and maternity leave. Thousands of petitioners have completed our surveys which have helped the Committee to understand the issues petitioners are facing, and it is very grateful for everyone’s contributions.

One of our surveys, which received over 12,000 responses, found that 78% of respondents have been unable to find and secure suitable childcare to allow them to return to work. 81% told us they were considering delaying their return to work as a result, with 80% of these being offered no options at all to extend their leave by their employer. Many of you reported using your annual leave allowance to delay your return, but some noted this would prevent them taking any further holiday once lockdown conditions had been lifted.

You can read a summary of what petitioners told us about their experiences here: https://committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/5350/default/.

A separate survey found that less than 3% of nurseries felt they would be able to reopen with the same capacity as before, with nearly 7% believing they would not be able to reopen at all in light of the current coronavirus crisis. In the survey, which was sent to childcare providers and employees who had signed relevant petitions, over 70% of providers said they either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the UK Government’s plans to reopen from 1 June.

This information helped the Committee when questioning experts on the impact of lockdown on maternal mental health, access to childcare, and maternity pay on 21 May. You can watch this session and read the transcript here: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/146495/petitions-committee-questioned-experts-on-maternal-mental-health-adoption-and-childcare/

These recent surveys were used to dig deeper into issues first raised in the Committee’s evidence session on the extension of maternity leave on 7 May. Ahead of that session, the Committee had received over 27,000 responses to a survey of petitioners, and over 25,000 responses to a Facebook post- a record for the House of Commons Facebook page. You can find more information about the first session here: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/146332/petitions-committee-investigate-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-students-and-on-maternity-leave/

Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine McKinnell MP said:

“The Petitions Committee has seen unprecedented levels of engagement on maternal mental health, childcare and maternity leave with tens of thousands of people sharing their views and concerns. The Coronavirus is having a huge impact on families in many different ways and hearing personal stories and feedback is informing our inquiry and allowing us to better understand why people are signing these petitions.

“The evidence we collect drives the direction of our inquiries and ensures that we are challenging the Government on these issues effectively. We will be holding our next evidence session on this topic later this month, where we will question Government Ministers and hold them to account on this very issue.

“The Petitions Committee is determined to continue to investigate the impact COVID-19 is having on all communities. As Members of Parliament, we will continue to collect evidence, press for answers, and scrutinise the Government’s response as our country continues to fight this pandemic.”

What is the Petitions Committee?
The Petitions Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that considers e-petitions submitted on Parliament’s petitions website and public (paper) petitions presented to the House of Commons.
It's a cross-party committee and is independent of the Government.

You can get updates on their work by following the Committee on Twitter
@HoCpetitions or on their website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/

This is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

Find out more about how petitions work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGEOraE08Jk&feature=youtu.be

Petitions Committee investigates the impact of COVID-19 on maternity leave

On Thursday 7 May, the Petitions Committee is holding two formal oral evidence sessions on coronavirus. The first of these will look at calls for the extension of paid maternity leave in light of the outbreak, prompted by a petition you signed. These sessions form part of the Committee’s ongoing inquiry into COVID-19.

Watch the session live from 2.30pm on Thursday: https://youtu.be/TOFPLeE7dqQ

In advance of the sessions, the Petitions Committee asked those who has signed the petitions to share their experiences, with a record number of replies. The Committee is very grateful to all those who shared their views.

The session on maternity leave will run from 14:30-15:30 and will focus on a petition to extend maternity leave by three months with pay in light of COVID-19, which has received over 200,000 signatures.

Read more about these sessions: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/146332/petitions-committee-investigate-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-students-and-on-maternity-leave/

The evidence sessions, which will be led by Petitions Committee Chair Catherine McKinnell MP, will explore the overarching issues raised by these petitions and will help the Committee better understand these issues and inform their constructive scrutiny of the Government on behalf of petitioners.

The evidence session will start be broadcast live on Thursday 7 May from 14:30 here https://youtu.be/TOFPLeE7dqQ

This can be a particularly stressful time for new and expectant parents. If you are struggling, or if you just need more information, some of the links below may be useful:

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, of which The Duchess is Patron, have worked with the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health to develop national clinical guidance on coronavirus and pregnancy for healthcare professionals, in addition to advice and information for pregnant women and their families. The information can be found here: https://www.rcog.org.uk/coronavirus-pregnancy

The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) were also represented on the call and alongside GPs are the only health professionals who routinely see all families from pregnancy to when the youngest child goes to school. iHV have an area on their website which includes a section on Parenting through COVID-19. It can be found here: https://ihv.org.uk/families/parenting- through-coronavirus-covid-19

A further list of support services for new and expectant mothers and their families can be found here: https://www.bestbeginnings.org.uk/charities-uk-support

What is the Petitions Committee?

The Petitions Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that considers e-petitions submitted on Parliament’s petitions website and public (paper) petitions presented to the House of Commons. It is independent of the Government.

You can get updates on their work by following the Committee on Twitter
@HoCpetitions or on their
website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/

This is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

Find out more about how petitions work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGEOraE08Jk&feature=youtu.be

Petitions Committee holds a formal evidence session on Covid-19 and maternity leave

We emailed people who had signed this petition by 30 April to ask you to share your experiences of maternity leave during lockdown.

Thank you to everyone who took part in this survey - we received over 24,000 responses altogether, as well as around 25,000 comments on a House of Commons Facebook post.

Your responses informed the questions the Petitions Committee then put to petitioners and experts in a formal evidence session last Thursday 7 May.

Watch Catherine McKinnell MP, Chair of the Committee, express her thanks to everyone who completed the survey: https://youtu.be/B4gEdBXcgz0

The session was really useful in helping the Committee better understand the concerns and challenges of people on leave during this time, and to help inform the next steps in the Committee's ongoing inquiry into the Government's response to coronavirus.

Watch the full session on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOFPLeE7dqQ

Find out more about the session, read the public engagement summaries and transcript here: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/146332/petitions-committee-investigate-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-students-and-on-maternity-leave/

We’ll email you again to let you know when we receive the written response to this petition from the Government, and about any more action the Committee takes.

This can be a particularly stressful time for new and expectant parents. If you are struggling, or if you just need more information, some of the links below may be useful:

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, of which The Duchess is Patron, have worked with the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health to develop national clinical guidance on coronavirus and pregnancy for healthcare professionals, in addition to advice and information for pregnant women and their families. The information can be found here: https://www.rcog.org.uk/coronavirus-pregnancy

The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) were also represented on the call and alongside GPs are the only health professionals who routinely see all families from pregnancy to when the youngest child goes to school. iHV have an area on their website which includes a section on Parenting through COVID-19. It can be found here: https://ihv.org.uk/families/parenting-through-coronavirus-covid-19

A further list of support services for new and expectant mothers and their families can be found here: https://www.bestbeginnings.org.uk/charities-uk-support

Who are we?
We are the House of Commons Petitions Committee. We are a cross-party group of MPs that looks at e-petitions submitted on petition.parliament.uk. We are independent from Government. You can find out more about us and our work on our website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/

You can follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter: @HoCpetitions.

Further information
You can read impartial House of Commons Library information about coronavirus here: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/coronavirus/

You can find out more about coronavirus and how you can protect yourself and others here:

www.gov.uk/coronavirus

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

The Government has also created an online service to help you out what you can do if you’re struggling because of coronavirus: https://www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-support

You can read NHS tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus here: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-anxiety-tips

Share your experiences of maternity leave during the coronavirus outbreak

The Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee the petitions system) are investigating the issues that this petition raises.

They’d like to hear more about why you signed this petition and your views and experiences of this issue.

You can share your views and experiences in this short survey: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/00QLUB/

They’d like to hear from you ideally by Monday 4 May 2020. Your answers will help them to understand the issues people are facing and what questions MPs need to ask the Government. They might publish some or all of your responses, or read them out when they’re asking questions in a public Committee meeting or in the House of Commons. So please don’t share any personal information that you don’t want to be public.

The Committee will be questioning representatives of parents, baby groups, health visitors and child development experts in the next week or so about this issue. We'll email you again to let you know more information and how you can watch the session online shortly. 

What is the Petitions Committee?

The Petitions Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that considers e-petitions submitted on Parliament’s petitions website and public (paper) petitions presented to the House of Commons. It is independent of the Government.

You can get updates on their work by following the Committee on Twitter
@HoCpetitions or on their
website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/

This is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

Find out more about how petitions work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGEOraE08Jk&feature=youtu.be

Share your experiences and concerns about finding childcare and returning to work

The Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee the petitions system) are continuing to investigate the impact of the outbreak on new parents. The Government has now given a written response to the petition, but the Committee's inquiry doesn't end there.

The Committee previously asked about people's experiences of maternity leave during the pandemic, and heard about the many challenges facing new parents, including concerns about mental health, child development, and family bonding.

In our last survey, many of you told us that finding suitable childcare and preparing to return to work is a big concern, so we'd like to ask you more about that ahead of the next session.

You can share your views and experiences via this short survey: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/CHRADM/

They’d like to hear from you ideally by Monday 18 May 2020. Your answers will help them to understand the issues people are facing and the options currently available, and what questions MPs need to ask the Government. They might publish some or all of your responses, or read them out when they’re asking questions in a public Committee meeting or in the House of Commons. So please don’t share any personal information that you don’t want to be public.

The Committee will be questioning a number of witnesses in the coming weeks, including representatives of childcare providers. We'll email you again to let you know more information and how you can watch the sessions. 

What is the Petitions Committee?

The Petitions Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that considers e-petitions submitted on Parliament’s petitions website and public (paper) petitions presented to the House of Commons.
It's a cross-party committee and is independent of the Government.

You can get updates on their work by following the Committee on Twitter
@HoCpetitions or on their
website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/

This is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

Find out more about how petitions work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGEOraE08Jk&feature=youtu.be

Petitions Committee to hold evidence session to examine parental leave and maternal mental health

The Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee the petitions system) have scheduled a virtual evidence session on Thursday 21 May at 9.30am on the urgent crisis of maternal mental health in lockdown and the impact of the virus on access to childcare. It will also look at the impact on adoption leave.

Watch the session live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqMKtR-pt0A

Ahead of the session, the Committee asked petitioners to share their experiences on childcare and returning to work. Thank you to all of those who completed the surveys. Your feedback will help inform the Committee's ongoing work on this subject.

On Thursday the Committee will hear from:

  • Alain Gregoire, Chair, Maternal Mental Health Alliance

  • Dr Trudi Seneviratne OBE, Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Faculty of Perinatal Psychiatry

  • Josie Anderson, Campaigns and Policy Manager, Bliss

  • Sue Armstrong Brown, Chief Executive, Adoption UK

  • Neil Leitch, Chief Executive, Early Years Alliance

The Committee has also received written evidence on this issue from organisations and individuals. You can read them here: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/192/the-governments-response-to-coronavirus/publications/written-evidence/

What is the Petitions Committee?

The Petitions Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that considers e-petitions submitted on Parliament’s petitions website and public (paper) petitions presented to the House of Commons. It is independent of the Government.

You can get updates on their work by following the Committee on Twitter

@HoCpetitions or on their website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/

This is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

Find out more about how petitions work:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGEOraE08Jk&feature=youtu.be

Petitions Committee hears from experts about maternal mental health and childcare during covid-19

This week the Petitions Committee heard about the impact of coronavirus on maternal mental health, the experiences of parents with babies in neonatal care, the impact on adopted children and adoption leave, and accessing childcare during the pandemic.

You can catch watch the session or read a transcript of the meeting here:

Watch the session: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqMKtR-pt0A
Read the transcript: https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/408/default/

Ahead of the session, the Committee asked petitioners to share their experiences on childcare and returning to work. Thank you again to all of those who took part.

Read a summary of what petitioners told us about childcare and returning to work during coronavirus: https://committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/5350/default/

Read a summary of what petitioners told us about the impact of coronavirus on maternity leave: https://committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/4258/default/

The Committee has also received written evidence on this issue from organisations and individuals. You can read them here: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/192/the-governments-response-to-coronavirus/publications/written-evidence/

The Petitions Committee are continuing to investigate the impact of the outbreak on new parents. We'll email you again to let you know about what will happen next. 

What is the Petitions Committee?

The Petitions Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that considers e-petitions submitted on Parliament’s petitions website and public (paper) petitions presented to the House of Commons. The Committee can schedule debates, hold in-depth inquiries, and press the Government for action on petitions. It is independent of the Government.

You can get updates on their work by following the Committee on Twitter
@HoCpetitions or on their website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/

This is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

Find out more about how petitions work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGEOraE08Jk&feature=youtu.be

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