Parents should be supported to take periods of leave that reflect modern working practices, including flexible working. We would support a legal ban on employers making a woman redundant during pregnancy, and until six months after return from maternity leave, other than in very limited circumstances.

We would also tackle pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace by supporting the call to legislate to add reporting of retention rates for women returning from maternity leave to the existing gender pay gap reporting regime.

With a multitude of changes across new parents’ lives, Plaid Cymru will work to support parents’ mental health during what can be a joyous, yet challenging time, by extending and standardising access to perinatal mental health services across Wales, including extending access to specialist mother and baby units within Wales as is being pioneered in Neath. We would establish an additional service in north Wales to help families who need access to acute perinatal support at such a critical time.

We would also tackle loneliness and isolation amongst new parents, especially mothers, by establishing local parent networks, inspired by the Mamma Gruppen initiative in Sweden.

In addition to the provision of universal child care to children from twelve months old, we believe that paid statutory parental leave, to be taken by one parent or shared, should be extended from the current 39 weeks to 52 weeks. We would continue to push for full devolution of competencies to provide a seamless transition between the end of paid parental leave and eligibility for access to our national childcare offer.

We would also introduce an extension to statutory paternity leave to 12 weeks, giving fathers and partners more time to spend with their new family.

Maternity and paternity pay and leave should be extended to families whose babies are born prematurely, before 36 weeks’ gestation, with the number of weeks a baby is premature added to any parental leave arrangements.

We would introduce shared parental leave for Welsh Government employees at the enhanced maternity pay rate for fathers who take leave and encourage the same good practice in public services, influencing good practice and using procurement levers in the private sector.

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