The impact of COVID-19 on maternity and parental leave: Government Response to the Committee’s First Report

Second Special Report

On 6 July 2020, the Petitions Committee published its First Report of Session 2019–21, on The impact of Covid-19 on maternity and parental leave (HC 526). The response from the Government was received on 7 September 2020 and is appended below.

Appendix: Government Response to The impact of Covid-19 on maternity and parental leave

Correspondence from Paul Scully MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, and Minister for London

Please find attached the Government Response to recommendations made by the Petitions Committee in respect of its inquiry into an online petition to extend paid Maternity Leave by 3 months in light of Covid-19.

Since the Committee published its report on 6 July, we have been working across Government to carefully consider the Committee’s recommendations and the evidence gathered in support of these. We recognise the sensitive nature of this particular inquiry and are very grateful to the Committee, not only for the work that they have done on this, but for the way that the inquiry has been handled. We are also extremely grateful to parents and their representatives for sharing their experiences of Covid-19 and lockdown with the Committee and with Government.

With regard to the recommendation that relates to the subject matter of the petition, having carefully considered the evidence that is available, we are still not persuaded that there is a need to extend entitlements to paid Maternity Leave at this time. There are a number of reasons for this, the most pertinent of which is that we still believe that the current arrangements for Maternity Leave and Pay are sufficiently generous to cater for a wide variety of circumstances that expectant and new mothers may find themselves in—including during lockdown.

We are however sympathetic to the unusual, and frequently stressful, position that many people—including expectant and new parents—have found themselves in as a result of Covid-19 and lockdown and we hope that employers will encourage their staff to make full use of the suite of entitlements to time off work that is available to them.

I recognise that this is not the response that the Committee and petitioners may have hoped for, but I trust that the attached response will reassure the Committee that we have taken this inquiry seriously and given all of the Committee’s recommendations careful thought.

I would like to thank the Committee for considering this matter and for sharing the information that they have gathered during the course of the inquiry.

Published: 9 September 2020