Family friendly legislation plan delayed
A DEBATE on new family-friendly laws which could see 52 weeks of parental leave introduced has been postponed days before it was due to take place.
Plans lodged by Social Security Minister Judy Martin would, if approved, extend family rights to entitle both new parents to up to a year off work, with six weeks of that paid for by employers.
New workplace breastfeeding rights have also been proposed, along with an extension of the rights for adoptive and surrogate parents. The changes were due to come into force in September.
However, the new laws, which were due to be debated in this week’s States sitting, have suffered a setback due to an ‘issue’ relating to compulsory maternity leave.
Deputy Martin said: ‘I’m disappointed not to be able to bring forward these proposals for debate next week but I remain committed to building on the existing employment rights of parents.
‘However, an issue has recently been brought to my attention that I will need to address in the legislation.
‘Having consulted with the Council of Ministers, withdrawal was the best option to ensure that any required amendment to the law can be carefully considered.
‘I am particularly disappointed not to be introducing the new rights relating to breastfeeding breaks and facilities this year, but I want to reassure parents that I will return to the States with the revised draft law as soon as I can, for debate in the autumn States sitting.’
Meanwhile, Deputy Rob Ward has lodged a proposition calling for school bus journeys to be free by September, with plans to extend free travel with a fareless network for everyone.
The proposal is tabled for debate during next week’s States sitting. Under-18s and those in full-time education would receive free bus travel by the ‘earliest practical date’, if the proposals are approved, while the Deputy would also like a full plan to be produced by the end of 2020 to make buses free for everyone in the Island.
Infrastructure Minster Kevin Lewis has tabled an amendment, however, which says that a large financial shortfall would be created by giving students free travel and that it would need to be covered by increasing fares for others or by reducing public bus services by 10%.
And St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft has instead proposed investigating free bus travel for schoolchildren and under-18s, with a view to implementing a plan by May 2020.
The final stage of an opt-out organ donation system is also expected to be rubber-stamped during next week’s sitting.
The Assembly has already approved a system of ‘presumed consent’ and will this week be asked to approve that law coming into force on 1 July.
A total of 32 written and 17 oral questions have been tabled.
External Relations Minister Ian Gorst and Chief Minister John Le Fondré are due to face questions without notice.