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AIBU to think Ed Balls should read things with both his eyes and his brain?

(18 Posts)
curiositykilled Fri 11-Sep-09 17:03:49

curiositykilled: I believe the pressures of twin pregnancy are being overlooked by the government currently. I would suggest the following:

* Increase maternity leave entitlement for women pregnant with multiples to 78 weeks (39 paid) with the option to begin maternity leave sooner than the 29th week of pregnancy
* Educate employers about the very different pressures, burdens and requirements that are being placed on their employees during a twin/multiple pregnancy
* Increase paid paternity leave entitlement to tow weeks per baby for fathers of twins/multiples.

Letter QJerin: I'd like to second the questions about twins. But would also like the issues of premature babies and maternity/paternity leave looked into. My babies were born prematurely and so my maternity leave was started from their dates of birth, however it means I'm due back to work when they are 39 or 52 weeks old, but corrected they are 2.5 months younger. I'm due back in a month's time and my twins are still tiny and unlike full-term nine month olds. Paternity has to be taken within eight weeks of birth and all together. My partner tried to take emergency leave following their early arrivals but was forced start his paternity. We wanted it to be taken when they came home but instead I was left home alone with tiny twins and a 17 month old. Twins are so much more costly and when premature there are even more costs associated. I don't want to return to work so early but have to for financial reasons. Luckily, we have family to help with childcare as a childminder can only have one baby under one year so we would need to find at least two.

Letter AEd Balls: Curiositykilled and Jerin, I have a number of friends who have had twins and I know how tough it is in the first few months. Of course, if you have twins you get two lots of child benefit and if you get tax credits that depends on how many children you've got, but to give parents with twins double the length of maternity and paternity pay would be pretty expensive and most people would think it was pretty unfair.

So... do you think he used his brain for reading? Should I expect the secretary of state for schools, children and families, formerly the leading media advisor (nothing implied there) to read something before he gave an answer or to not read it and not answer?

<<I know it was a webchat and he was under pressure but it is his job and his answer makes him look rather foolish>>

bronze Fri 11-Sep-09 17:06:20

must go read it. Im glad someone broughth up the prem thing.

curiositykilled Fri 11-Sep-09 17:09:02

I am very insulted about him assuming we all just want more cash too... Have sent a loooong and smug e-mail that one of his cronies he won't read.... as long as they don't read it with their brain I won't mind... grin

kathyis6incheshigh Fri 11-Sep-09 17:10:42

Yes I thought that was silly of him; seems very reasonable for people with twins to have a few months extra maternity leave, especially to cover the issues of twin pregnancy and prematurity. The 'oh but twice as much wouldn't be fair' is a straw man argument.

StewieGriffinsMom Fri 11-Sep-09 17:15:04

Message withdrawn

curiositykilled Fri 11-Sep-09 17:17:30

but he's not even referring to leave or acknowledging the point about educating employers! He's just assumming I was asking for money.. stupid man...

<<feels incensed, wants MN to calm her and recognise her>>


curiositykilled Fri 11-Sep-09 17:19:14

It would be better for employers too. Currently women enduring a high risk pregnancy are being forced to either leave their jobs or sign on the sick. If they coudl take maternity leave the employers would be able to hire temporary cover and it would be better all round for the economy.

bronze Fri 11-Sep-09 17:21:26

curiosity I recognise you.

I don't have twins but did have a prem. Trying to find childcare for my two other preschoolers while I spent a month in hospital was hell. Dh used up his pitiful paternity leave and we are still in debt because of this periodin our lives.

singingmum Fri 11-Sep-09 17:25:33

Have only read a handful of the answers that ed balls(he doesn't deserve caps on his name) gave but the ones I did read looked like they came ready prepared and he'd maybe memorized them.You only have to look at his answers to the issue's raised by home educators and his complete non-answer when invited to talk to see this

bronze Fri 11-Sep-09 17:26:42

I think e balls sounds even better

curiositykilled Fri 11-Sep-09 17:38:07

e balls is good... balls is an appropriate name...

singingmum - thank you! I ended my smug e-mail with:

'Perhaps a more correct way for Mr Balls, Secretary of State for Children Schools and Families, to respond to these issues would be to consult specialist midwives, employers, parents of multiples and specialist obstetricians before he makes assumptions about these issues and rather than dismissing my point on the basis of 'having a number of friends who have had twins'.'

Not sure it reads well but it is smug and disdainful enough to satisfy my black, black heart...

anastaisia Fri 11-Sep-09 23:29:17

YANBU - although I was mostly there for his answers to the home ed questions and have NO experience of twins/high risk/prem births I noticed how he pretty much dismissed the question and commented on the thread. It was obvious that the questions/concerns were more about flexibilty than money and it worries me that someone who has a part in running our country couldn't see and/or reply to that.

deepdarkwood Fri 11-Sep-09 23:43:05

Sorry, but I sort of agree with him.

How you define what is a difficult pregnancy/birth/babyhood. Who should have extra time/care... Mothers of prem babies? Disabled babies? IVF babies? those with genuinely traumatic births? single mums with no help? CS mums?

Paternity/materity leave costs money, education costs money - all of your suggestions do have an implicatd cost.

I'm not saying I nec disagree with you (I've been some of the above mums, but the one I'd be most terrified by would be twins smile) - but dis-ingenuous to pretend that it doesn't all come back to the cash...

Silver1 Fri 11-Sep-09 23:43:36

As DH has said to be fair he's not very bright and a bit of t-sser (I am hoping to slide that in under fair comment)

Friends of ours had a prem recently, who was transferred to hospital 70 miles away. They had travel costs petrol or train, equipment costs-you get some help but not always for everything you may feel your baby needs, paying for hotels when baby was very ill, and a mortgage on a house they barely ever stayed in not to mention childcare for their elder child. In the end she had to give up her job which New Labour don't approve of educated mums doing.

Glad he thinks that extra £26 pounds a week is going to do it...

scottishmummy Fri 11-Sep-09 23:49:08

you think he is tosser?say it not cutsey t-sser

fuck sake it is ok to utter profanities

bronze Sat 12-Sep-09 09:14:33

Silver sounds like us
Me in hospital for over a month before birth some of that 115 miles away.
ds 1 and 2 aged 3.4 and 20 mths. And a husband who got 2 weeks paternity leave at pitiful amounts.
Not sure when he was supposed to take those two weeks. He couldnt take them for that month so did he take them some time in the following 3 months while she was in hospital or maybe when she came home.
My mum did come to stay for a bit to help with childcare. She not only missed her birthday to help us but her mum died while she was here.
And hes supposed to hold down a fulltime job!

I did phone home/sure start for help when we were struggling to go and visit her and they didn't get back to me.

I get annoyed with his reaction because it makes me angry especially because of our finances now when normally I'm just thanking my lucky stars we got through and have a healthy little girl.

bronze Sat 12-Sep-09 09:17:04

deepdarkwood we dont claim benefits or anything normally but it would have been nice to get a bit of assistance when we really needed it. Afterall isn't that what the welfare state is about

curiositykilled Sat 12-Sep-09 10:37:51

deepdarkwood - Maternity leave has a much lower cost burden on the economy and employers than people leaving their jobs or being signed off on the sick. I obviously can't really explore issues with premature babies fully as I don't have the knowledge or experience - apologies, it is a very important issue.

One of the main points I made was about education of employers. He didn't even acknowledge that point. It is unfair to expect an employer to understand that they need to provide differently for women pregnant with multiples than with one baby and that there is a very real risk that the babies will come before maternity leave is allowed to be taken. The lack of education poses a risk to the productivity of the business and the health and safety of the pregnant woman.

In answer to your question of how you define difficulty in this area deepdarkwood my answer would be - 'speak to the people who know'. You speak to obstetricians, midwives and parents. It is pathetic/worrying to think political decisions might be made on the basis of the politician 'having loads of friends who have had xyz'

Think about it. Women currently can't take maternity leave until the 29th week of pregnancy. If you have a multiple pregnancy it is very uncommon that you will be able to spend much time in work because you have many more antenatal appointments, the risk of complications is much, much higher and your needs in pregnancy are often very different to someone having one baby.

Women are very, very commonly signed off on the sick during their multiple pregnancies which leaves employers without an employee, not knowing when or if the employee will return and paying out sick pay and possibly higher wages for temporary covr from an agency.

If women could, say, take 78 weeks (39 weeks paid the same as with a singleton) maternity leave during multiple pregnancy, could start that leave at any point after diagnosis of multiple pregnancy the cost burden could be much lower on the employer and would be much better for small businesses.

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