Six-month parental leave idea ‘balanced’
A CONSULTATION which recommended giving parents of newborns six months off is ‘balanced’ and took into account the views of businesses, an assistant minister has said.
Social Security Assistant Minister Graham Truscott added that if the States were to pick up the bill for parental leave it would result in ‘significant increases’ in tax contributions.
Earlier this month Social Security Minister Susie Pinel lodged a proposition calling for an overhaul of family-friendly legislation following a consultation carried out by the Employment Forum.
If the proposed changes to the Employment Law are passed, maternity, adoption and parental leave would increase to 26 weeks, the amount of paid maternity leave would treble from two weeks to six weeks and two weeks of paid parental leave for the father or parent of the child’s mother would be introduced.
Following a question in the States by Deputy Jeremy Maçon this week, Deputy Truscott said: ‘The minister and I are both confident the Employment Forum undertook this consultation to its usual high standard and that a balanced recommendation has been presented taking into account the views of local businesses as well as employees and parents.’
Members were told that there were 27 responses from individual employers. Jersey Chamber of Commerce, representing 450 businesses, the Institute of Directors, representing more than 650 members, the Jersey Hospitality Association, representing about 400 industry partners and the Jersey Famers’ Union, representing about 100 members, also contributed to the consultation.
Deputy Truscott, who said that the consultation was ‘well advertised’, added: ‘The Forum’s role is to take into account the views of a wide range of stakeholders and other relevant evidence. The Forum reaches its recommendations not by being persuaded by the most forcefully expressed, consistent or repeated responses but by taking a balanced approach to the evidence and the information that is available from many sources.
‘In addition, there is a balance within the Forum itself with members representing both employers and employees.’
When asked by Deputy Montfort Tadier whether the impact on small businesses had been considered, Deputy Truscott said it had.
He added that if local businesses or the government were to get involved in paying for parental leave it would result in ‘significant increases in contributions’.
‘In the UK, for example, the government does pick up this kind of maternity and paternity bill but employers rates are at 13.5 per cent contributions whereas over here they are at 6.5 per cent currently,’ he said.
Deputy Truscott told the Assembly that as a small business owner he thought the proposed paid parental leave was ‘totally affordable’.
When questioned by Deputy Sam Mézec whether he would guarantee that it was not just the wealthy that would be able to afford to take the full amount of time off for maternal leave as a large proportion was unpaid, Deputy Truscott replied: ‘I would hope that as many mothers as possible feel they could take it’.
He added that Members could lodge amendments to ‘strengthen or weaken’ Deputy Pinel’s proposition ahead of the debate, which is scheduled for 20 March.