Andrew Griffiths, the government’s small business minister, has revealed he is unable to take advantage of a shared parental leave policy he was responsible for promoting.
As part of an effort to raise awareness of employment rights, a new campaign has been launched to show working parents how childcare duties can be shared. New research revealed just two per cent of qualifying couples take-up the initiative, with half of the public unaware shared parental leave was an option.
Griffiths, who is set to become a father in April, had been tasked with promoting the £1.5m campaign.
However, in a BBC 5 Live interview with presenter Emma Barnett, Griffiths shocked listeners when he claimed as an “office holder” he was not working as an employee and therefore would be unable to take shared leave.
Before Griffiths, who was given the small business minister job in January 2018, could finish defending himself as the “first-ever minister first-ever minister responsible for maternity and paternity to take their full allocation of paternity”, a stunned Barnett took full advantage of the irony.
She said: “Hang on a minute, back up a second. You’ve just come on the radio to promote shared parental leave, and you’re in a job where the rules could be changed because you are the rule-makers – where you are not allowed to take shared parental leave.
“How can you say that without laughing?”
When asked why ministers did not simply change the law to allow themselves the same rights as employees, Griffiths left Barnett open-mouthed by admitting “it’s not even something I had thought about”.
Barnett added: “I find it almost too much like ‘Yes, Minister’ to be true.”
Take a look at the full clip
Shared parental leave was introduced in 2015 to offer working parents choice and flexibility over their own arrangements. Eligible parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay after having a baby.
The “Share the joy” campaign has seen the government launch a new website to inform people of their entitlement and target new parents with digital marketing.
Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.