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DUP MP Carla Lockhart has called on the Government to debate an online petition asking for an extension of paid maternity leave for a period of three months. The petition has almost 200,000 signatures well in excess of required 100k to trigger a debate in Parliament.

Carla Lockhart said:

“The arrival of a new-born baby is a wonderful moment, and every moment with that baby is precious in those early days and weeks after birth.

Maternity leave has been proven to be of benefit to the mother’s health, and also the baby’s development. Ordinarily, it provides an opportunity to spend time with the new-born in the home, but also in social settings. These little outings are important to the mother’s mental health and well-being. It is an opportunity to share experiences with other mothers. With restrictions in place due to COVID-19, many mothers and new-borns are missing out on this time. That is why I believe Parliament should discuss this petition and weigh up the arguments both for and against a three-month extension.

With the current crisis already challenging for employers, such an extension would require support from the Government to deliver it. The matter ought to be debated and a range of options explored. This is not a call for it to happen per se, but for it to be analysed for viability.

For some the birth of a child will be something only experienced once, yet those first months have been far from the normal. This can have a long-lasting impact on some mothers. We owe it to them to see what can be done to help.”