Covid-19 has left new parents feeling isolated without the wider network of support that could ordinarily be expected. As maternity leave ends and the prospect of returning to work approaches, many new parents have found themselves unable to visit or decide upon suitable nursery placements. That, added to the loss of sharing the momentous experience of an addition to their family with other relatives, not least grandparents, has been a real anxiety for new parents.
Most new parents are simply not in a position to take unpaid leave to salvage some of the missed early life experiences their babies have missed due to the global health pandemic. That matters because early life experiences can potentially have a significant impact on a child’s later development, as can parental anxiety. This is a matter about which many of my constituents are concerned, so I rise to present this petition on an extension to maternity and paternity leave due to covid-19.
The petition states:
The Petition of residents of the United Kingdom,
Declares that pregnancy and giving birth during a global pandemic and national lockdown is extremely stressful for new and expectant parents;
notes that the UK Government has categorised pregnant woman as “extremely vulnerable”
and advised them to observe particularly stringent measures to protect themselves and their unborn babies;
further notes that new research is actively being undertaken regarding raised levels of mental health problems for expectant and new mothers and fathers during the COVID-19 pandemic;
notes that early experiences of a baby are critical for their future development and future outcomes, and that new parents need time to “socialise”
with their babies and introduce them to nursery or other childcare provision;
declares that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a hugely adverse effect on early life experiences for new babies in that it has deprived them of their parents’
opportunities to expose their babies to wider developmental experiences outside the home, including experience with wider family such as grandparents;
and further notes that the Government has made specific arrangements to protect workers with its Job Retention Scheme but has not made additional arrangements to offer further support to workers on maternity and paternity leave during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the UK Government to immediately institute extended maternity and paternity leave for new and expectant parents.
And the petitioners remain etc.