New rights for parents will soon be in force thanks to a campaign for a law change that started in Rotherham.
The Children and Families Act, which gained Royal Assent a year ago, means parents having children through surrogacy will be entitled to leave and pay if their baby is due on or after 5 April.
The Act is a big victory for Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey and cousins Jane Kassim, from Clifton, and Amy Bellamy, from Rawmarsh, who went to see him at an advice surgery in January 2012.
Amy was carrying twin girls for Jane and husband Adis but Jane, a teaching assistant, found she wasn’t eligible for maternity leave or pay. Jane and Adis were only entitled to 13 weeks’ unpaid parental leave, even though they would be caring for the babies straight after the birth.
Jane, whose daughters Ivy and Isla have just turned three, managed to reach an agreement with her employer but wanted to help fight for better statutory rights for other women in her situation.
Mr Healey said: “This campaign began in Rotherham and I am delighted the work we did here and in London and the strong arguments we put together convinced the Government to change the law.
“Jane knew it would be too late for her to benefit but she and Amy should be extremely proud that very soon families across the country will benefit from what they did to highlight this unfairness.
“I am extremely pleased that families can now look forward to the birth of their child without worrying they might have to give up their jobs or go back to work after just a few precious weeks with their newborn.”
When Mr Healey became involved, campaigners and lawyers had been fighting for the change for a decade, without success.
The MP brought a Ten Minute Rule Bill in April 2012 and followed it up with several behind-the-scenes meetings with ministers, officials and other campaigners.
In November 2012 the Government announced plans to give parents having babies through surrogacy the same right as those having their own or adopting.
The Children and Families Act means intended parents in surrogacy cases who qualify for a Parental Order will become eligible for statutory adoption leave and pay from next month. They have also been entitled to time off for antenatal appointments from October last year.
Mr Healey was named constituency campaigner of the year in January, for his work on securing these rights for parents having children through surrogacy and fighting against 0845s numbers.