Scotland politics

Scottish children's minister begins maternity leave

Aileen Campbell
Image caption Aileen Campbell is taking a cut in her ministerial salary while on maternity leave

Scotland's children's minister has become the first member of the Holyrood government to take maternity leave.

Aileen Campbell, whose last day in the job was on Thursday, is being covered by fellow SNP MSP Fiona McLeod, until she returns.

Ms Campbell, who is eight-and-a-half months pregnant, is expecting her second child.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said supporting parental leave was vital to "shattering the glass ceiling".

Ms Campbell has also chosen to reflect statutory maternity pay by taking a 59% cut in her ministerial salary, with the money re-directed into the government's children and families budget.

That means she will get 90% of salary for six weeks, followed by a weekly payment of £138.18.

The Clydesdale MSP told the BBC: "This is politics reflecting real life, this is something that many women and many families have to do and I'm looking forward to having a bit of time with my family and the new arrival."

Ms Campbell added: "You're talking about the theory, the policy, the strategies around early years and I have to now reflect that in my own important role as a mum-to-be for this wee bump, and also for my wee boy, Angus."

Image caption Fiona McLeod, seen on the left, is taking over Aileen Campbell's ministerial duties while she is away

Ms Sturgeon, who has pledged to increase opportunities for women, said: "Shattering the glass ceiling is a priority for me during my tenure as first minister.

"Encouraging and supporting parental leave, and especially maternity leave, as a way of enabling working parents to care for young children then return to the workplace is an essential part of that."

Several UK government ministers have previously taken maternity leave, most recently women and equalities minister Jo Swinson.

The Scottish Liberal Democrat politician, who is married to fellow MP Duncan Hames, saw her government duties covered by Jenny Willott while she was away.

Labour's Yvette Cooper was the first UK minister to take maternity leave.

Ms Cooper, who is married to shadow chancellor Ed Balls, has spoken of feeling "cut off" by Whitehall officials when she took maternity leave for a second time while working in the communities department.

Ms Campbell said she has had "nothing but support" from colleagues.

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