The news came shortly before the final amendment was due to be debated in the States. Minister for Social Security, Deputy Judy Martin, said “I’m disappointed not to be able to bring forward these proposals for debate next week but I remain committed to building on the existing employment rights of parents. However, an issue has recently been brought to my attention that I will need to address in the legislation. Having consulted with the Council of Ministers, withdrawal was the best option to ensure that any required amendment to the Law can be carefully considered.

I am particularly disappointed not to be introducing the new rights relating to breastfeeding breaks and facilities this year, but I want to reassure parents that I will return to the States with the revised draft Law as soon as I can, for debate in the Autumn States sitting.”

The “issue” in question related to the drafting of the proposal to potentially remove the concept of compulsory maternity leave, to be replaced with joint rights for new parents, which were subject to a requirement to notify their employer. Concerns had been raised about the impact on the small minority of cases each year where pregnant women fail to give their employer notice of their intention to take leave.

Once the drafting issue has been addressed, the intention remains. The new joint rights to parental leave will come into force in the near future, alongside other new proposed measures including workplace breastfeeding rights as well as an extension of the rights for adoptive and surrogate parents.

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