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Parliamentary staff demand more rights ahead of big political contest
MPs have been urged to get their own house in order on paternity leave.
Currently MPs’ staff lose their entitlement to benefits including paternity leave if they change their boss. They may be doing the same job but for a different MP. However that’s treated by parliamentary authorities as a new start so any time previously accrued is disregarded.
Employees must clock up six months in a job to access rights such as statutory paternity leave.
Now dozens of MPs’ staff have written an open letter urging all the candidates to replace John Bercow as Speaker next week to fix the anomaly.
They claim it can leave workers vulnerable to bullying and harassment because they can’t switch jobs for fear of losing key rights such as paternity leave.
The letter, shared with parliament’s in-house magazine The House, states: “We believe this is wrong; we should enjoy the same rights as any other person in the UK who moves within an organisation. And we ask you to commit to addressing this fundamental flaw in our system if elected as Speaker.”
The authors add, “While we understand that employment rights need to be built up, the unique environment of the House of Commons means that any moves between MP’s offices, as part of natural career progression, wipe our employment history clean.”
Nine candidates will tough it out next week to be named the new Speaker of the House of Commons. The post essentially puts them in charge of running parliament.
The current runners for Labour are MPs Harriet Harman, Chris Bryant, Meg Hillier, Lindsay Hoyle, and Rosie Winterton. Conservatives Edward Leigh, Henry Bellingham, Shailesh Vara and Eleanor Laing have also all put their names forward.
MPs only agreed to a system of paternity leave for themselves earlier this year.