Tracy Brabin: It’s time to extend Shared Parental Pay to freelancers and the self-employed
The days of new employment laws being created only for those in more conventional employment should be left behind, writes Tracy Brabin
Today I’ll be taking the campaign to extend Shared Parental Pay to freelancers and the self-employed to Parliament in the form of a Ten Minute Rule Bill. I hope this will be the first step towards it becoming law.
The exclusion of freelancers is a hole in our legislation that needs repairing and what I’m putting forward is a common sense improvement that doesn’t add any cost to the taxpayer.
So, how is it going to work? Well, self-employed mums have the right to access 39 weeks of maternity allowance at £140.98 per week - if they have paid Class 2 National Insurance for at least 13 of the 66 weeks before their baby’s due.
Maternity Allowance is only payable to mums. All I’m asking for is that the allowance can be shared in chunks between the new mum and her partner.
Working in the same way Shared Parental Pay does for those in more conventional employment.
As straightforward as this change is, it’s incredibly important for a number of reasons.
Firstly, Shared Parental Pay was introduced in April 2015, at a time when self-employment and freelancing was already on the rise.
I believe that the days of new employment laws being created only for those in more conventional employment should be left behind.
After all, there are at least 4.7 million self-employed workers in this country and it’s the duty of Government to consider them as equals in policy making wherever possible.
Secondly, as I mentioned at the top of this article, Maternity Allowance is only payable to the mum. This is endemic of a system which expects mums take on the majority of caring responsibility for the child.
I know from experience how hard it is to raise a young child while freelancing, my partner and I did it, twice. It’s incredibly hard to give up steady payments coming in, in order to jump back into the freelance world where work can be week-by-week or day-by-day.
And of course, as soon as the mum goes back to work, the Maternity Allowance stops.
In many families the mum could be the highest earner or at an important stage of her career so why shouldn’t she be enabled to get back to work, when she wants to. This bill’s integral to ending the practise of holding self-employed mums back.
Which brings me onto my third point, families and work. British workplaces need a culture change, it’s still not ‘normal’ or expected that a partner will take extended periods of leave to look after their children. However, it should be, and freelancers can blaze that trail.
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, a significantly better outlook than the two per cent who take it now.
The change would affect a large part of our working population, nine per cent of women and 16% of men aren’t eligible for Shared Parental Pay because they’re self-employed. While 24,000 self-employed mums claim Maternity Allowance and would benefit from this change in policy.
So, I’m offering the government an opportunity to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to gender equality, closing the pay gap and giving the self-employed a fair deal at work. Let’s hope they take it.
Tracy Brabin is Labour MP for Batley and Spen and shadow minister for early years.
IPSE have responded to Tracy Brabin saying the self-employed urgently need Shared Parental Leave. Read the full article here