I can’t take shared parental leave, says minister promoting shared parental leave
Watch: BBC presenter Emma Barnett was flabbergasted at the admission by Andrew Griffiths.
“We’re due on April 15th, our first baby,” small business minister Andrew Griffiths announced on Radio 5Live today. “It’s very exciting.”
But having imparted the joyous news, the minister – who is responsible for shared parental leave – then dropped a bombshell.
"Unfortunately, as a minister, I’m not allowed… to take shared parental leave," he revealed during an interview with Emma Barnett.
Somewhat awkwardly, Griffiths’ revelation came as he was in the middle of publicising a new government drive to encourage higher take-up of shared parental leave.
Shared parental leave was introduced in April 2015 and allows new parents to split 50 weeks of time off to care for newborns. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy is now rolling out a £1.5m campaign that encourages parents to ‘share the joy’. It will aim to reach them through digital website advertising, social media, adverts in train stations and on commuter routes.
Evidently aware of his clanger on live radio, the Tory MP for Burton & Uttoxeter desperately tried to make up for it by stressing that he did plan to take the full two weeks of paternity leave available to fathers.
"I think I am going to be the first ever minister responsible for maternity and paternity to take their full allocation of paternity. I’ve already told my office I’m taking two weeks off," he said proudly.
But a flabbergasted Barnett – who is herself eight months pregnant - was not willing to let the minister off the hook that easily.
"Hang on a minute, back up a second," she said. "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’re not allowed to take shared parental leave?"
"That’s right," said the minister.
To which the baffled BBC presenter responded: "How can you say that without laughing?"