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MP calls for Shared Parental Leave for self-employed and freelancers

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Written by: Paloma Kubiak
21/02/2018
An MP has called for Shared Parental Leave to be extended to self-employed and freelancers in a bid to improve take up and cater to the changing face of work in Britain.

Labour MP and shadow education minister, Tracy Brabin, delivered her bill in the House of Commons today, urging the government to support a move to extend Shared Parental Leave to more workers in the economy.

It comes as figures revealed the take up of the flexible work and pay scheme could be as low as 2%.

Brabin said that the whole world of work is changing with more and more people classed as self-employed or freelance, and working in the gig economy.

In total, 15% of British workers define themselves as freelance and “literally anyone can be self-employed”, she said.

Addressing the House, the MP, said: “9% of women and 16% of men aren’t eligible for Shared Parental Pay because they’re self-employed.

“And there are 24,000 self-employed mums claiming Maternity Allowance who would benefit from this bill.

“Sadly not enough families are taking the opportunity because where many employers have enhanced maternity schemes, for most employees such schemes don’t exist for shared parental leave, meaning many families would be worse off if they signed up to it.

“Currently self-employed mums who have given birth must take their statutory maternity allowance in one go. They can’t return to work for a month or two and then resume their allowance.

“My bill would allow freelance partners to decide who receives the allowance so a mum can take a block when she’s ready or wants to re-enter the workplace while the family still receives the regular income from the Maternity Allowance.”

Brabin said this bill would “send a strong message to the country that not only do we understand the changing face of work but we believe men and women are valued equally in the home and work place”.

If the bill were extended to these workers, Brabin said she believes there wouldn’t be an issue with take-up.

A survey conducted by Parental Pay Equality found over 70% of freelancers, or those with freelance partners, would use the scheme if it was available to them in the future.

The MP added that the extension would come at no extra cost to the taxpayer as Maternity Allowance is already paid to new mothers, so it’s “win, win for the Treasury”.

She concluded: “So the Bill I put forward today, is simple but significant. Fair and progressive.

“A bill to complement current government policy, not disturb it.

“Help close the gender pay gap, proving to the world that Britain is serious when it comes to gender equality.”

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