New rule for Holyrood Committee Conveners will support parental leave

14.03.2017

Holyrood committee conveners who go on maternity or paternity leave will be able to return to the same job, if a new rule proposed by the Standards and Procedures Committee is endorsed by Parliament.

The recommendation in a report published today will mean that Conveners, in practice, no longer have to resign their position if they plan to take extended parental leave. 

Through a minor rule change to Holyrood’s Standing Orders, an Acting Convener of the same political party will be permitted, allowing the new parent-to-be to return to the post once maternity, paternity or parental leave ends.

Clare Adamson MSP, Convener of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments (SPPA) Committee said:

“This requires only a minor change to the Parliament’s Standing Orders, and it may in time only benefit a small number of people, but there’s an important message here.  It means you will not be disadvantaged as a result of taking maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave.

“It might only be a minor change but it removes another barrier in the workplace for women and for men.”

Full details can be found in the SPPA Committee report: Acting Conveners - Standing Order rule changes.

Parliament is expected to be asked to agree the rule change before the Easter recess.

Background 

On 30 January 2017 the Presiding Officer, on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau wrote to the Committee, asking it to consider revising Standing Orders to address the situation where a committee convener is absent for an extended period of parental leave.  In particular, the Bureau suggested that an Acting Convener could be appointed during these circumstances. 

Standing Orders at present only provide for a Committee’s Deputy Convener to stand in, often a member of a different party.  In effect, this may lead to a Convener formally resigning in order to allow a replacement of the same party to be appointed, thus preventing them from resuming their post following leave.