The Government Is Asking Women To Share Their Stories About Maternity Leave Ahead Of Parliamentary Inquiry
They want to know how lockdown has affected maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave after the petition way surpassed its target, now reaching almost 190,000 signatures.
In a post on Facebook, the House of Commons wrote: "Are you currently on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave? How has the lock down affected your experience?
"Do you think that maternity leave should be extended because of coronavirus? What else do you think the Government could do to support those on maternity leave during the lock down?
"The Petitions Committee is investigating a petition calling for maternity leave to be extended in light of Covid-19. It wants to hear your experiences to inform its work. [...] Deadline: Midday on Monday, 4 May."
The petition calls for those currently on maternity leave to be given an extra three months paid leave, explaining: "This time is for bonding and social engaging with other parents and babies through baby groups which are vital for development and now everything has been cancelled."
With lockdown restrictions in place, new parents and their little ones have been confined to their homes with little interaction with fellow parents, babies and also extended family members.
"Given that the government have closed down many areas of the community new parents and babies are confined to their homes with no social interaction which will ultimately impact on the development of children," the petition continues.
"We are calling on Boris Johnson and the government to extend paid maternity leave by an additional three months, at least to allow for this development and bonding to take place."
As the petition reached over 100,000 signatures, it will now be debated in parliament.
The government explained it wants to hear from those who have been affected - and new parents have been flocking to social media to share their experiences.
One person commented: "I feel that lockdown has had a serious impact on new mothers, especially those who rely on baby groups and classes for socialisation with other new mums and to share experiences and seek advice.
"As much as so many of these groups have thought of wonderful ways to keep some normality, I.e. virtual videos etc, it isn't the same as physically attending a group and speaking with other mums (which I think most would agree, is half the reason we attend in the first place!)."
Another said: "I signed this petition as I believe it is important for babies to be adjusted to normal life before having their primary carer taken away for in my case minimum 11 hours per day up to 5 days a week. They are unfamiliar with all relatives that they could be looked after by and it is impossible to look into or get childcare options at the moment."
Many other parents agreed they were concerned about others looking after their baby when they return to work, considering the child wouldn't have had any contact with another individual.
Others said their own mental health had been affected by the lockdown, explaining they felt robbed of being able to attend support groups and classes.
If you would like to share your own experiences, you can also leave a comment on the House of Commons Facebook post.
"Please note: Your name, and any information or opinions you provide, may be shared with the Petitions Committee and used in a Parliamentary proceedings or written material which will be on the record and available on Parliament TV, Hansard and the Parliament website. Please ensure that you are happy with your comment before sharing," they advised.
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