Harriet Harman: I want MPs to be provided with six months’ paid baby leave
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Harriet Harman, the longest continuously-serving female MP has said that Members of Parliament should be offered six months of paid baby leave and be allowed to nominate cover. Harmen has said that those going on 'baby leave' should be allowed to nominate another MP to cover on their behalf and also appoint a caseworker in their constituency to handle the workload. Speaking at a Labour event in Newcastle, Harmen recalled her own experience having three children during her time working in the House of commons. She said: “Eighteen months leave for three babies during 35 years’ work doesn’t seem to much to ask." “Without maternity leave I lost out. I felt my babies lost out." "It’s long overdue to sort this out.” Childbearing is seen as a barrier to entry for women thinking of getting involved in politics or progressing in the field. The provision of paid baby leave could play a big part in encouraging more female candidates to stand for election in Westminster. The 2017 general election saw 208 female MPs elected to the House of Commons, passing the 200 mark for the first time. However, just 32% of the House of Commons are currently female and a standardised maternity policy could make the role more appealing to prospective MPs who wish to have children. During her 35 years in parliament, Harman has fought extensively for women’s issues and wrote a book A Woman's Work about her experiences as a female MP. A cross party parliamentary group, the Commons Reference Group, will consider Harman’s proposals in the upcoming week.
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