Reform Jersey, the Island’s only political party, has taken the unusual step of bringing forward the Employment Forum’s recommendations before Social Security Minister Susie Pinel lodges her own proposals for parental rights.
And on top of the recommendations, they have called for the States maternity allowance – a £209.51 a week payment made to new mothers – to be extended from 18 weeks to 26.
The proposition, formally lodged by party member Deputy Geoff Southern, also includes calls for income support to be paid in full to those parents who need it on top of the allowance.
Under current laws, mothers are entitled to 18 weeks’ maternity leave, two of which are fully paid, with the rest unpaid. An additional two weeks’ unpaid parental leave is available for fathers, partners or a close relative.
The forum has proposed that by September 2019 both parents should be entitled to 52 weeks of parental leave to be taken over a three-year period, six weeks of which would be fully paid by employers.
Deputy Sam Mézec, Reform Jersey’s chairman, said: ‘Jersey has lagged behind the rest of Europe in our parental leave provisions. Reform Jersey has brought several propositions over recent years to extend it to 26 weeks, but has been voted down by the Council of Ministers each time.
‘Now, with the recommendations made by the Employment Forum, we believe that the States should make this necessary progress to provide peace of mind to Islanders that they can choose to have a family without having to damage their careers.
‘The Social Security Minister has already indicated that she might not accept all of the recommendations when she brings forward her own proposals.
‘However, our proposition ensures that this will be subject to a vote of the whole States Assembly, rather than one Minister with a history of opposing maternity leave.’
The proposition is due to be debated on Tuesday 20 February.