Government urged to provide self-employed with Shared Parental Pay

Friday 22 September 2017

Self-employed parents are being let down by the current maternity pay system, according to a new campaign urging the government to include both parents. Parental Pay Equality is running a petition on the issue, which it will be presenting to the government later in the year.

Currently, self-employed mothers are only able to claim Maternity Allowance (MA). This provides them with approximately £140 per week for 39 weeks. However, it is very inflexible for freelancers. The time off must all be taken in one block, during which the recipient is not allowed more than ten days - called "keep-in-touch days" - in which she can perform paid work.

This means self-employed mothers might see their businesses grind to a halt if they claim MA, or else they will have to work through their pregnancy and while raising a newborn baby.

Shared Parental Pay is currently available to couples in which one member is eligible for MA or Statutory Maternity Pay, however this is still inflexible for freelancers. First of all, in order to claim this, the person claiming MA can be self-employed but must be earning above a certain amount and have been working for 22 out of the 66 weeks leading up to the birth.

Meanwhile, the other partner cannot be self-employed at all. In order to be eligible for Shared Parental Pay, they need to have been employed continuously by the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due date. They also need to remain in the job throughout the leave.

Parental Pay Equality wants to change this. Speaking to the Telegraph, the campaign's founder Olga Fitzroy - a self-employed music producer - said: "This affects a lot of people. Everyone is trying now to be more inclusive and flexible, but people are going 'hang on a minute, this doesn’t help at all.'

"I think this will become more and more significant as the numbers of self-employed people in the UK continue to rise."

The campaign argues that extending Shared Parental Pay to the self-employed wouldn't cost the government anything extra, as it would simply mean sharing the existing allowance between two people. This would allow freelancers the flexibility to take some time off without their businesses being forced to essentially shut down for 39 weeks.

Parental Pay Equality's petition, calling on the government to "change the eligibility criteria for statutory Shared Parental Pay to include self-employed people", will be presented on October 31st at March of the Mummies, an event set up to raise awareness of maternity discrimination issues.


By Victoria McDonnell

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