Parental Leave Consultation

Following pressure from Parental Pay Equality and other campaigners, the government finally announced a consultation on Parental Leave which closes on the 29th of November. The consultation covers all aspects of maternity, paternity and parental leave, but we’ve put together some guidance for key points, to make sure our demand for #SelfieLeave gets heard.

Fill in the consultation form using the guidance for key questions below. Do try and expand on answers using your own experience where appropriate.

Guidance for Parental Leave Consultation.

Section 1: Paternity leave and pay

Question 3: How should the costs of providing Paternity Leave and Pay be apportioned between Government, employers and parents?Comments:

Comments: 

  • The government should cover the cost of paternity and maternity pay to an extent that it is financially viable for both mothers and fathers to take a time off work 
  • We recommend a minimun 12 weeks paternity with a 6 week portion paid at 90% to be taken at any time in the first 18 months and split into blocks
  • Paternity leave and pay should be a day one right for all workers including the self-employed.
  • Give examples of how well-paid, longer paternity leave either did help, or would have helped your family


Section 2 – Shared Parental Leave and Pay

Question 10: What aspects of the current Shared Parental Leave and Pay scheme are most successful, and which are most in need of reform? Please give reasons for your answer.

Comments: 

  • The part most in need of reform is eligibility for self-employed. 
  • Research by Parental Pay Equality and Parents in Performing Arts shows that over 70% would take SPL
  • Self-employed mothers have no employment protections, so it is likely they will need to do some work during the MA period to maintain their business, and self-employed fathers currently get no paid leave at all.
  • Give examples of why SPL would have helped your (self-employed) family

Question 11: Should there be a dedicated pot of leave and pay for each parent within the Shared Parental Leave and Pay scheme?

Yes   No   Not sure

Comments: While we absolutely support a dedicated paternity leave for all fathers, within SPL we believe flexibility is most important. Creating restrictions on how much paid leave either partner can take in the SPL scheme is likely to have unintended consequences that make the situation worse for some families. 

Question 12: Should mothers continue to be the ‘gatekeeper’ for the Shared Parental Leave and Pay scheme?

Yes   No   Not sure

Comments: Yes, because allowing fathers to make decisions on curtailing the mothers leave and pay could be open to abuse, particularly in situations of domestic violence and coercion.

Section 5: Towards a comprehensive suite of parental leave policies

Question 23: Do you think the Government should consider a more radical change – potentially moving to a single ‘family’ set of leave entitlements, or seek to reform the existing entitlements?

Move to single family set of leave entitlements

Seek to reform the existing entitlements           

[No box ticked as it would depend on what any reforms looked like]

Comments: 

  • Any new system must include the self-employed, and we are concerned about DWP’s ability to deliver any system of parental pay, given that delays to Maternity Allowance  are currently running at 14 weeks plus.
  • Any reforms must ensure that there need to be ringfenced periods of leave and pay for mothers that are not less than what they currently have, in order to protect mothers recovery from birth and breastfeeding, and to stop her from being co-erced into giving up leave before she is ready. 
  • We welcome ringfenced periods of leave and pay for fathers, so long as mothers entitlements are not reduced

Question 26: If you consider that the Government should prioritise reform of parental leave and pay policies, which policies are most important and why?

Comments: 

  • Shared parental leave self-employed and all workers
  • Paid adoption leave for the self-employed
  • Paternity leave for self-employed and all workers

Neonatal Leave Consultation

This summer the government announced a plan to give neonatal leave to parents of babies born prematurely. Parents of premature or sick babies often spend many weeks or months in neonatal wards, with many dads back at work within weeks while mothers spend the majority of their leave sitting next to incubators, often far from home.

For self-employed families there is no support for the fathers in this situation, and mothers have the additional stress of the potential loss of their business if they are the sole carer of a premature baby

 We have worked with the charity The Smallest Things to pick out the most important questions to answer to help self-employed parents of premature and sick babies.

Do fill in the consultation using the guidance below

Question 2. Do you agree that parents of babies who need to spend time in neonatal care should have access to additional pay and leave? Strongly agree Possible answers – Strongly agree • Agree • Neither agree nor disagree • Disagree • Strongly disagree • Don’t know

We believe that parents whose babies spend time in neonatal care should receive additional financial support, and this must include the self-employed. Include personal experience here if you can.

Question 3. Do you agree that access to Neonatal Leave and Pay should be restricted to parents whose children have spent a minimum of 2 weeks in neonatal care, i.e. are seriously ill or likely to be in hospital for an extended period of time? • Strongly Disagree Possible answers – Strongly • Agree • Neither agree nor disagree • Disagree • Strongly disagree • Don’t know

Given that fathers are currently only entitled to two weeks paid paternity leave, and self-employed fathers get no leave whatsoever, restricting neonatal leave to those parents whose babies spend more than 2 weeks in neonatal means there will be families where they father is back at work before the baby is out of hospital, and we believe this puts unnecessary strain on families. Also, there may be babies born with conditions that mean they are not necessarily in a neonatal ward, but could be in specialist paediatric wards, and these should also be included. (Include personal experience if relevant)

Question 4. If you agree that access to Neonatal Leave and Pay should be restricted to parents whose babies are most seriously ill, after what length of time in neonatal care should the parents’ entitlement to Neonatal Leave and Pay crystallise? • Other

We believe that babies requiring one week of extra neonatal care should get additional leave, in order for fathers who only qualify for 2 weeks statutory paternity leave to be able to properly support the mother and share the care of their child. This is particularly important for self-employed fathers and partners who currently do not qualify for any pay or leave whatsoever, may be under incredible pressure to leave a seriously ill baby in order to go back to work. Having some financial support for fathers in this period would help ease the pressure during an incredibly stressful time.

Question 5. Are there other circumstances that you think should be considered for inclusion within the scope of Neonatal Leave and Pay? What are they?

The current Government proposals do not include self-employed parents and we are concerned that neonatal leave and pay would not be offered to this group. Given the well-documented problems that affect this group, who currently have no paternity or shared parental pay, it is vital that all families spending more than one week in

neonatal care should have access to additional leave and pay. We urge the government to take this opportunity to make the new legislation fit for purpose to include the 15% of the workforce who are self-employed and give self-employed parents the support to visit their new babies in neonatal care. If you are self-employed and have experience of having a premature baby please include any difficulties you faced here.

Question 6 Do you agree that Neonatal Leave should be a ‘day one right’ in line with Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Parental Bereavement Leave? Agree Possible answers – Strongly • Agree • Neither agree nor disagree • Disagree • Strongly disagree • Don’t know 

Premature babies aren’t a thing you can plan for, and as the purpose of this legislation is to support families in these stressful situations and setting out clear guidelines for employers, we believe it is counterproductive to exclude some families. We also believe self-employed families should qualify, and that similar qualifying criteria to Maternity Allowance should be used.

Question 7 Do you agree that the qualifying period of service for Statutory Neonatal Pay should mirror the qualifying period of Statutory Paternity and Shared Parental Pay? • Strongly Disagree Possible answers – Strongly • Agree • Neither agree nor disagree • Disagree • Strongly disagree • Don’t know 

We believe that this should be a day-one right and extend to self-employed people. We have already seen the effect that excluding the self-employed from shared parental pay has on women’s businesses, and It would be a huge missed opportunity to exclude the 15% of the workforce that are currently self-employed from neonatal pay. Leave without pay effectively excludes families on low incomes. The Taylor Review recommended equalising the parental leave regimes for employed and self-employed parents, and these two consultations are an opportunity to urgently address the shortcomings in a system that is not designed for modern families.

Question 8. Do you agree that the entitlement to Neonatal Leave should be capped? Strongly Disagree Possible answers – Strongly agree • Agree • Neither agree nor disagree • Disagree • Strongly disagree • Don’t know

To ensure that parents of extremely poorly babies are supported, the length neonatal leave should not be capped, as this could add to additional stress, and could result in some families having their leave entitlement run out while their baby is still extremely ill in a neonatal unit.

Question 9. Do you agree that the maximum number of weeks of Neonatal Leave should be the same as the maximum number of Neonatal Pay in order to ensure eligible parents can receive pay throughout their leave period? • Strongly Agree Possible answers – Strongly agree • Agree • Neither agree nor disagree • Disagree • Strongly disagree • Don’t know

We strongly believe that the entire period of neonatal leave should be paid, recognising the extreme financial strain that families will be under with one or both parents not working. Paying for travel, hospital parking, accommodation and food outside of the home are all additional expenses that many parents of premature babies incur so we do not believe that the financial support should be capped.

Question 11 Do you agree that Neonatal Leave and Pay should be taken in a continuous period at the end of existing entitlements to family-related leave and pay, e.g. Maternity or Paternity Leave? Strongly Disagree Possible answers – Strongly agree • Agree • Neither agree nor disagree • Disagree • Strongly disagree • Don’t know

We believe that for some families the ability to share neonatal leave in blocks between the mother and the father should also be an option, particularly for self-employed parents, where either the mother or the father’s business may require their critical attention at some point. Restricting the leave to a continuous block where work is not allowed could be detrimental, so we recommend building in some flexibility for the self-employed.

Question 12 Do you agree that a father/partner should be required to give notice in advance of the end of their other statutory leave entitlement to Paternity Leave in order to take Neonatal Leave?  Disagree Possible answers – Strongly agree • Agree • Neither agree nor disagree • Disagree • Strongly disagree • Don’t know

We believe that fathers should be entitled to take neonatal leave at other points in first year, as the end of the statutory 2 weeks paternity leave may not be the most useful time for the family. They should be required to indicate an intention to take neonatal leave but with flexibility on the dates.

Consultation on Shared Parental Leave announced

The Business Secretary, Greg Clark today announced a consultation on a number of family-friendly policies, including Shared Parental Leave. This follows years of campaigning from Parental Pay Equality and others, and includes open-ended sections for respondents to have their say on SPL. A government policy consultation is a very significant step, and opens the door to legislative change in these areas going forward. The consultation on Parental Leave closes on November 29th and can be found here.

Parental Pay Equality & UK Music Joint Letter to Business Secretary

25.06.2019: UK Music chief Michael Dugher and Parental Pay Equality founder Olga FitzRoy have called on the Government to include self-employed workers in the music industry in paid parental leave reforms.

They have written a joint letter (attached) to Business Secretary Greg Clark to urge him to do more to help workers in the creative industries who contribute £100 billion to the UK economy.

The move follows reports that the Government is considering extending paid paternity leave to 12 weeks.

In their letter to Mr Clark, Michael and Music Producers Guild Executive Director Olga said:

“The vast majority of creators in the music industry are self-employed. At present, current regulations place the burden of childcare on the mother, damaging her career prospects while preventing fathers from spending time with their new families. 

“With women still under-represented in all sectors of the music industry, the ability to share parental leave could be a game-changer in retaining freelance female talent.

“These urgently needed changes are long overdue. If the Government is serious about supporting businesses and the creative industries which contribute £100 billion to the UK economy, it must introduce reforms that reflect the modern working world.”

Letter_to_Greg_Clark

Pregnant Then Elected

On Thursday 25 October, we are partnering with Pregnant Then Screwed on our first Pregnant Then Elected event to encourage more mums to kick start a career in politics.
Following Jo Swinson MP being subjected to maternity discrimination by our own government, we want to encourage and support more mums to have a political career. Only 32% of MPs are women and 45% of women MPs have no children, compared to 28% of male MPs and compared to 20% of the overall population. The most senior women in politics, like Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon, do not have children.
We will discuss the specific challenges mothers encounter, why it is important we have more mums in Westminster, how to make your voice heard, how to overcome the various barriers, and we will demystify the process. The event will be non-partisan. We will also talk through the lifecycle of a successful campaign, using Parental Pay Equality as an example.
Tickets for Pregnant Then Elected are free, but if you can afford it there is a suggested donation of £15 to Pregnant then Screwed.
Time: 6pm – 9.30pm
Venue: Landsec offices, 80 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 5JS
Accessibility: Venue is fully accessible – for any accessibility queries please email info@parentalpayequality.org.uk
Children: Children and babies are very welcome to the event, though there aren’t any childcare facilities.
Drinks (alcoholic and non alcoholic) will be available as well as some crisps and nuts.
Speakers will include:
Kemi Badenoch MP (Conservative)
Tracy Brabin MP, Shadow Minister for Early Years, (Labour)
Joeli Brearley, Founder of Pregnant Then Screwed
Baroness Sal Brinton, President of the Liberal Democrats
Rezina Chowdhury, Lambeth Councillor (Labour)
Olga Fitzroy, Founder of Parental Pay Equality
Aceil Haddad, Pregnant Then Screwed
Caroline Nokes MP, Immigration Minister (Conservative)
Frances Scott, Founder of 50:50 Parliament
Tulip Siddiq MP, (Labour)
Sophie Walker, Leader of the Women’s Equality Party
Amelia Womak, Deputy Leader of the Green Party
Spoken word artist, Amber Rose, will be reading some of her hard-hitting poetry. Amber is a Brighton-based single mum who is passionate about mental health, motherhood and healing from abusive relationships.

SelfieLeave all over Parliament in April and May

The Shared Parental Leave and Pay Extension Bill, aka Tracy Brabin MP’s #SelfieLeave Bill was mentioned in 3 separate parliamentary debates in Westminster within a fortnight.

On May 1st Kevin Brennan MP asked the Minister in charge of Shared Parental Leave, Andrew Griffiths MP, about extending shared parental leave to the self-employed.

On April 18th Tracy Brabin asked ministers to look into it as a means of closing the gender pay gap during Harriet Harman’s UQ on the gender pay gap.

And on April 17th Kevin Brennan MP urged Culture Minister, Michael Ellis MP to look into it more closely during a Westminster Hall debate on the creative industries

 

Self-Employed Left Behind on Return to Work

Our survey results are in, and reveal that self-employed returners are disadvantaged when they go back to work after having children, despite most saying they would like to work more. Only 20% of self-employed women are back to their pre-baby earnings by the time their child is 2, compared with 26% amongst employees. (ONS Labourforce Survey)

 

Data: ONS Labourforce Survey

 

Data: Parental Pay Equality / Organise

This is despite a huge 62% wanting to work more, compared with only 10% of employed mothers in part-time work wanting to work more. (ONS Labourforce Survey)

Data: Parental Pay Equality / Organise

 

51% (both men and women) said that being eligible for shared parental leave would make the biggest difference to their family, yet 3 years to the day after this legislation was first introduced for employees, the self-employed remain ineligible. Many respondents also mentioned the lack of flexible affordable childcare as having a negative effect on their business, as the unpredictable nature and jobs at short notice made it difficult to use conventional nurseries and childminders that need to be paid upfront. 59% were not satisfied with how they were able to divide childcare and work as a couple.

This is why the government needs to listen to the thousands of self-employed families being held back by the inflexible systems of Maternity Allowance and limited KIT days, and embrace Shared Parental Leave and Pay for all.

Labour MP Tracy Brabin, who has introduced a bill to Parliament aimed at extending shared parental leave and pay to the self-employed said, “The time for introducing shared parental leave for freelancers is long overdue. It’s clear from this important research that many freelance mums want to work more and that the amount of work they can take can be affected by childcare commitments. The good news for the Government is that I’ve already introduced a bill to make shared parental leave available for freelancers and all they have to do is support it.”

Methodology: 143 People took part in an online survey run by the Organise Platform and Parental Pay Equality. The ONS stats are from the ONS Laborforce Survey .

Shared Parental Leave and Pay (Extension) Bill announced

The shadow early years minister, Tracy Brabin, today announced  a 10-minute Rule Bill motion to extend Shared Parental Leave and Pay to the self-employed. The bill, which has its first reading on February 21st, has cross-party support, with Conservative MP Ed Vaizey, Liberal Democrat deputy Leader Jo Swinson, as well a Caroline Lucas the SNP’s Alison Thewliss all co-sponsoring. In an interview with Buzzfeed Brabin said “It seems to me that the only way we’re going to close the gender pay gap is to get men more involved in childcare.”

This welcome announcement follows months of campaigning by Parental Pay Equality and supporters, and we will be gathering high-profile campaign-supporters and stakeholers outside parliament to support this bill. You can follow developments on social media using #SelfieLeave. Read the full article here