We’re thrilled to see the Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Jo Swinson leading a cross-party push to bring a Private Member’s Bill that would require businesses with 250+ staff to be transparent and publish information on their parental leave and maternity/paternity/adoption and shared parental leave pay policies, in a bid to combat maternity discrimination.
A successful return to work after extended leave, be it maternity, paternity, sickness or sabbatical needs careful thought and management from both the employer and employee, and finding the healthy, sustainable balance between work and other commitments can still feel a challenge from both sides. We feel positive that the introduction of this Bill and the publicity it generates will encourage more open and honest relations between organisations and employees, in the quest to ensure that talent is not overlooked, discouraged, nor penalised.
This public Bill, introduced by Swinson in the House of Commons on June 6th 2018, is sponsored by Nicky Morgan, the former Tory cabinet minister, Harriet Harman, David Lammy and Gareth Thomas from the Labour Party, Caroline Lucas, the Green Party’s co-leader, and Alison Thewliss of the SNP. Whilst not part of planned Government legislation, the Bill would be a simple regulatory change that could lead to significant benefits for working parents.
Jill Miller, diversity and inclusion adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, described Swinson’s proposal as an “encouraging move”, adding that “increased transparency about parental leave policies shines a spotlight on an organisation’s offering and could help break the taboo of employees and prospective employees asking about their entitlements, which many are often reluctant to do”.
The introduction of this Bill is one of several significant developments in the last week alone, with the publication of the Treasury Select Committee’s Women in Finance report further reinforcing the need for change around the stigma of flexible working and parental leave to ensure that women are not held back in their careers.
Jessica Chivers, CEO of The Talent Keeper Specialists and author of Mothers Work! How to Get a Grip on Guilt and Make a Smooth Return to Work (Hay House, 2011), says “Clients are always asking us what other organisations are doing in this space. They’re keen for confirmation that they’re not missing anything obvious as well as looking for other best practices they can weave into their policies and practices. Benchmarking will give employers the information they’re looking for and cross-pollinate practices from different sectors.”
 Private Members’ Bills – or backbench Bills – are introduced by individual MPs or members of the Lords rather than by the Government. As with other Public Bills their purpose is to change the law as it applies to the general population. Very few Private Members’ Bills become law but, by creating publicity around an issue, they may affect legislation indirectly.
*We would like to give credit for the photo used in this article, but we don’t know where it came from!