John celebrates surrogacy rights campaign win

MP John Healey is celebrating a huge step forward in his campaign to secure leave and pay rights for mums who have babies through surrogates.

The Government have announced plans to give parents having babies through surrogacy the same rights as those having their own.

The Wentworth and Dearne MP said: “I’m delighted the Government has accepted our campaign.

“This is a victory for common sense and common justice.

“And it’s a great victory for mums like Jane who will now have the same rights to maternity leave as other mothers of newborn babies.”

Mr Healey launched the campaign after cousins Jane Kassim and Amy Bellamy came to see him at an advice surgery in January. Amy, of Rawmarsh, Rotherham, was seven months pregnant with Jane and her husband Adis’s twin girls.

Jane, of Clifton, Rotherham, had been told at 15 she could not carry children and Amy had offered to act as a surrogate. Ivy and Isla were born in March.

When Amy was pregnant, Jane found she had no legal right to maternity leave or pay, as mothers giving birth or adopting normally do – even though she and Adis were the babies’ biological parents – just 13 weeks’ unpaid parental leave.

While she had managed to reach an agreement with her employer she wanted to help fight for better statutory rights for other women in her situation.

In April Mr Healey brought a Ten Minute Rule Bill (a way for MPs to seek to change laws or bring new ones in), ‘Surrogate Parents (Leave, Pay and Allowance Arrangements)’ which aimed to equalise rights between parents of children of surrogate mums and those whose are born to them. The Bill received cross-party support.

He told the Commons at the time: “It is wrong that thousands of mothers who have their own babies or who adopt have a legal right to 39 weeks maternity pay and a right to up to 52 weeks maternity leave, while others have a right only to 13 weeks parental leave, unpaid.

“It is wrong that mothers such as Jane Kassim are denied the same basic right to the time they need with their newborn babies that other mothers have.”

Following this Mr Healey and the country’s leading lawyer in the field, Natalie Gamble, had a number of meetings with ministers and officials to push for the legal loophole to be closed.

The Government has now published its response to a consultation on parental leave rights and proposed a number of changes expected to be brought forward soon in the Parental Rights Bill.

The proposals from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills included that intended parents in surrogacy cases who qualify for a Parental Order will become eligible for time off for up to two ante-natal appointments, statutory adoption leave and pay and flexible parental leave and pay.