Neonatal Care: Statutory Leave and Pay

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 21st September 2021.

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Photo of David Linden David Linden Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

What plans his Department has to bring forward legislative proposals on an entitlement to statutory leave and pay for parents of babies requiring neonatal care.

Photo of Paul Scully Paul Scully Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Minister of State (London)

The Government are committed to introducing statutory leave and pay for parents of babies requiring neonatal care, and we will do that as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Photo of David Linden David Linden Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

I am grateful to the Minister for his answer, but I am afraid it is not good enough. Every year 100,000 babies are born premature or sick, and parents like me then have to take time off work to be with their child in hospital where, perhaps, it is fighting for its life. When will the Government get a grip on the issue? This is something that they have committed themselves to doing, and parents of premature and sick babies across these islands are desperate for action. Do we have to wait for an employment Bill? Why are the Government taking so long?

Photo of Paul Scully Paul Scully Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Minister of State (London)

I appreciate the work that the hon. Gentleman and his all-party parliamentary group on premature and sick babies are doing in this area. The Government are committed to ensuring that all workers can participate and progress in the labour market and that we build back better as we recover from covid-19. We will bring forward the employment Bill when the time is right. In the meantime, we will continue to take the necessary action to support businesses and protect jobs.

Photo of Andy McDonald Andy McDonald Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights

Millions of workers are denied maternity pay and parental leave, as well as other basic rights and protections, because the Government allow only some workers to have full rights, and only after two years in the job. Is it not the case that working people are paying the price for the Government’s broken promise to bring in an employment Bill? Does the Minister not agree that all workers should have full rights from day one on the job?

Photo of Paul Scully Paul Scully Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Minister of State (London)

As I say, we are expanding workers’ rights and delivering based on qualitative and quantitative evidence. That will be seen when the employment Bill comes through, when parliamentary time allows. What we cannot do, though, is work on a whim. Last week, the Labour party announced that it wanted a £10 minimum wage, yet this week it is reportedly recruiting stewards for its conference at £9.75 an hour. We say what we mean and we will deliver.