Minister promoting shared parental leave not allowed to take time off for his own child
A minister charged with promoting the Government's new shared parental leave policy has admitted he is not actually entitled to take time off to look after his own baby.
Small Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said that because he is an "office-holder" rather than an employee, he will only be able to take a fortnight off to help look after his first child, which is due in mid-April.
It comes as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy launches a new campaign to make parents aware of their rights to shared parental leave.
The department says take-up of the policy could be as low as 2% among couples who are entitled, with many fathers apparently put off by the financial implications of taking time off work.
Appearing on BBC Radio 5 Live's Emma Barnett Show this morning, Mr Griffiths explained that he would not personally be able to take advantage either.
"So unfortunately, as a minister, I'm not allowed. Ministers are not allowed to take shared parental leave," he said.
"It's because I'm an office holder rather than an employee. Ministers aren't allowed to. But I think I am going to be the first-ever minister responsible for maternity and paternity to take their full allocation of paternity. I've already told my office that I'm taking two weeks off."
He said his "main concern" was for some of the 285,000 couples who are eligible for time off but do not take it up.
"I want to make sure that as many of those mums and dads, where this can work for them, take advantage of it, so that they get the real benefit of spending time with their children in that first twelve months, which is so important."
Pressed on why he was not able to change rules so he could take more leave himself, Mr Griffiths replied: "I have to admit to you that it's not even something that I had thought about.
"It's not my priority. My priority is to focus on how we can deliver a policy that works for hundreds of thousands people."