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In November 2020, the Attorney General, Suella Braverman, announced that she was expecting her second child in early 2021. Under current rules, Ms Braverman would have to resign to be able to take maternity leave. To avoid this the Government has introduced the Ministerial and other Maternity Allowances Bill.

The bill would create a discretionary power to enable the prime minister to designate a minister wishing to take maternity leave as a ‘minister on leave’. This would mean that she would be able to take six months paid maternity leave, subject to certain conditions, and return to her post after. It would also mean that the individual appointed to provide cover for the minister would receive a ministerial allowance equivalent to their salary for up to six months. In addition, the bill would provide for salaried Opposition office holders to take six months paid maternity leave without having to resign.

The bill does not make provision for paternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave. These issues, among others, were raised during the bill’s passage through the House of Commons.

The bill completed its Commons stages without amendment on 11 February 2021. It received cross-party support. However, during both second reading and committee stage, MPs raised concerns about matters including: the narrow scope of the bill; the lack of an equalities impact assessment for the bill; the use of gender-neutral language; the time limit of six months for paid leave; and the discretionary nature of the provisions.

Outside of Parliament, although the bill has been generally welcomed, some have argued that the scope of the bill is too narrow. They say that the bill should be used to address wider issues with statutory maternity pay and maternity leave for MPs.

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