Indian-origin UK minister returns to work from maternity leave: ‘No mum guilt’
Attorney General Suella Braverman. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
SUELLA Braverman, the Indian-origin cabinet minister in Britain to benefit from a new maternity leave law for ministers, has resumed working following the birth of her second child and she feels doing the office work is much easier than attending two kids at home. She is not harbouring a “mum’s guilt” either and feels she has returned to work as a better-equipped person and hopes her job makes her a better mother.
The 41-year-old barrister, who is the senior-most legal officer in the UK government, is the attorney general for England and Wales.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the Conservative Party leader attended her first cabinet meeting earlier this week when prime minister Boris Johnson’s senior team met in person for the first time in a year-and-half because of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Braverman, whose elder child is two-year-old, will formally take up her portfolio next week. She was designated minister on leave (attorney general) while she was on leave and her deputy Michael Ellis served as the attorney general. Lucy Frazer, the prisons minister, took up his role.
For the minister who just became a mother for the second time, even a constitutional crisis sparked by something like Brexit looks easier to handle than managing two little kids.
“You know, you’re up at 3am. I’ve not had an uninterrupted night’s sleep in six months. I love them and they’re adorable, but coming back to work is a bit of a break from being in this exhausting role at home, I must admit!” The Telegraph quoted her as saying.
Braverman, who is a daughter of immigrant scholars who won a scholarship to a private educational institute before studying law at Cambridge, found herself blessed with the backing of her prime minister who insisted that a new law be enacted to help her become the first minister of state to avail the maternity leave.
She was designated as the first ever “minister on leave”, thanks to the Ministerial and other Maternity Allowances Act 2021. “They should have called it Gabriella’s Law,” she joked, referring to her six-month-old daughter. “The Prime Minister was incredibly supportive… I was just really moved by the compassion I was shown,” she added.
“There was no opposition [to the Bill] so it went through really quickly… I became this sort of accidental trailblazer.”
Braverman admits that while she has given up on aspects like make-up and glamour, thanks to her tireless running around after her infant daughter and two-year-old son George, she has also mastered some new skills while attending her kids tirelessly.
“Multi-tasking, stamina, managing without sleep. Patience within a relationship as well; definitely teamwork,” she said, while throwing light on the newly acquired skills.
People cautioned the minister about what was coming but nothing could have prepared her for the task is what Braverman thought.
“It feels like military-style planning that goes on in our house nowadays.” It’s all served a wider purpose, though: “I genuinely do think I’ve improved my stamina and my ability to get things done. I probably spend a lot less time mindlessly browsing social media; less time with my trolls!” The Telegraph quoted her.
But Braverman is not suffering from a “mum guilt” after joining work back. “I also know at the end of this second time of maternity leave, I’m not really designed for full-time childcare either,” she said.
“It’s taking me time to transition into motherhood. Work is such an important part of my life – it’s a privilege to have this job. I hope it makes me a better mum… I certainly feel like a happier mum [for going back to work],” she said, mentioning that her parents and in-laws are helping her with the childcare part.
Braverman is clear when it comes to pregnant women facing discrimination in the workplace. Recently, former estate agent Alice Thompson was awarded £185,000 by an employment tribunal after she was denied the right to work shorter hours to take her daughter from nursery.
“I really hope that by taking this action, the government sends a message to employers, right around the country, to look more closely at their maternity leave policies and ask themselves whether their female employees are treated fairly,” she said. “Are they valued as a team member or seen as a problem?”
It may have been designed to help the women of Westminster, but Braverman strongly believes ‘Gabriella’s Law’ will benefit working mothers everywhere.