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Still no maternity leave in Jersey as politicians vote down plans

Still no maternity leave in Jersey as politicians vote down plans

Friday 01 May 2015

Still no maternity leave in Jersey as politicians vote down plans

Proposals to guarantee six months of maternity leave for new mothers have been rejected by the States after ministers said that they could not justify the cost.

But there will be a review on introducing maternity leave and levels of free nursery care, with some limited proposals already pencilled in for September.

Politicians voted by 28-16 to reject Deputy Geoff Southern’s proposition to guarantee payments of just over £5,000 to new mothers, spread out over 26 weeks.

Those proposals were more generous than the last set of changes that were put out to consultation by ministers, and which could be introduced by 1 September. The model they are proposing would guarantee just two weeks of paid leave, as well as six weeks unpaid leave for people who have been in their job for less than 15 months, and 16 weeks for those who have been in their job for more than 15 months.

The proposals would also guarantee the rights for pregnant women to attend ante-natal care appointments.

Deputy Southern, who has promised to bring the subject back for discussion again during the debate on financial plans in September, quoted Yoda from the Star Wars series in his closing speech, urging Members to look past the cost of the scheme and see the benefits.

His remarks came after many said they could not support the proposal, but that it was a good aspiration to try to aim at.

Borrowing a line from the ancient Jedi Master, Deputy Southern told his States colleagues: “Do or not do. There is no try.”

Social Security Minister Susie Pinel had led the opposition in the debate, telling Members that they should instead put their faith in a major review of support for young families under the banner of the '1,001 Days Agenda' to ensure proper help for the first two-and-a-half years of a child’s life.

“A 26-week entitlement may be our next goal,” she said.

“However, it means a cost to the States. When we debated the proposal last year it was made clear that the Social Security department would not be able to accommodate the additional £1.5 million of additional cost.”

In the UK, Statutory Maternity Pay laws guarantee six weeks of leave at 90% of annual weekly earnings, and another 33 weeks at either 90% of annual weekly earnings or £138, whichever is lower.

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