Olga FitzRoy’s Parental Pay Equality campaign, which aims to get Shared Parent Leave rights extended to the self employed, is gaining momentum with Labour MP Tracy Brabin proposing legislation in Parliament to resolve what many see as an unfair anomaly in the current law.
Stars from the world of music and film joined forces with politicians and gathered outside Parliament on February 21 to support Brabin’s proposed legislation.
Under a 2015 change in the law, parents have the right to split their leave between them. Self-employed mothers must take statutory maternity allowance in one go and cannot go back on to it after doing some work. Self-employed fathers have no access to parental leave or pay.
Around 285,000 couples are eligible every year for shared parental leave, but take-up "could be as low as 2%", according to the Department for Business.
The new law would be a major step forward for gender-equality, particularly in the creative industries where 44% are self-employed.
Celebrity supporters of the bill include Chris Martin, who commented: “So many of our crew, both in the studio and on the road, are freelance, and we don’t want to lose half of that talent when they become parents - we want them to be able to share their parenting in a way that works for them, and isn’t dictated by being a man or a woman.”
Parental Pay Equality’s founder, Olga FitzRoy said: “This is a great opportunity for politicians of all parties to unite behind the bill, which will send a strong message that men and women are valued equally in the home and in the workplace.
“Self-employed mothers, who don’t get any employment protections while on leave, need the flexibility of sharing childcare with a partner to ensure they have a job to go back to, and dads have had enough of being sidelined when it comes to parenting.”