Force the government to change maternity pay for all women
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Currently, mothers in the UK are entitled to 90% of their usual pay for 6 weeks. For 33 weeks after that, they can get a maximum of £140.98 a week. For many women in full-time work, the amount of £140.98 is likely to be a lot lower than their normal earnings.
In total, new mothers can get 52 weeks maternity leave, but this means that 13 weeks would be completely unpaid and the 39 weeks of pay insufficient to support their family.
Other countries offer higher rates of maternity pay for much longer than six weeks. For example, in Croatia, mothers get higher rates for six months. In other countries, three or four months is the standard. Compared to other nations, the UK ranked 22 out of 24. Only Ireland and Switzerland ranked behind. Could this be the reason for the high amount of short term online loans taken in the UK?
The Department for Work and Pensions claims that the UK offers one of the most generous maternity systems in the world. While that might be true, th benchmark of comparison should be the rest of Europe, and in comparison the UK doesn’t stack up too well. We should be comparing the UK with neighbouring countries or those of similar economic status, rather than looking at the global picture. Within the EU, of which the UK is still a member for now, the minimum amount of statutory maternity pay is 14 weeks.
In terms of time allowed, the UK actually offers the longest period in Europe. However, many mothers can’t afford to take their full amount of maternity leave because they need their full wage to pay their expenses. While other countries might offer less maternity leave, several of them allow women 100% of their standard pay during this time. For example, France, Spain and the Netherlands all offer full pay, although statutory maternity leave is under 20 weeks for all of them. Although mothers, or fathers if they wish to take parental leave instead, can have up to a year of leave, the time allowed isn’t much use to many if they can’t afford to use it.
Additionally, the UK has discrimatory rules that penalise women who:
1. Change jobs whilst pregnant and are therefore not entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
2. Are self employed
3. Women who earn less than £112 a week
Effectively the SMP system punishes mothers who change jobs while pregnant on the count of maternity pay. SMP is reimbursed by the government and therefore places no burden on an employer. This is a statutory matter that must be rectified to protect the rights of mothers throughout the country. The policy discourages career moves during pregnancy and therefore directly discriminates on the basis of gender. Take the example as way of illustration: A woman left a previous job due to bullying and moved into a role that offered flexible working, better remuneration and rewards employees in a meritocratic way. At the time of changing jobs she was unaware of her pregnancy, and later found out that her move would mean that she was not entitled to statutory maternity pay despite being in continuous employment for the past 8 years.
Why are there different regulations for woman who change jobs while they are pregnant?
The UK must review its Maternity Pay and support the ability of women who work to raise their children and have a career.
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