The Women’s Equality Party’s first Party Conference expresses concerns over the limited rights of self-employed parents to maternity, paternity and adoption pay and leave. Employed mothers are eligible to receive Statutory Maternity Pay for six weeks at the rate of 90% of their average weekly earnings or £139.58, followed by a weekly £139.58 for 33 weeks. Self-employed mothers, on the other hand, can only claim £139.58 for 39 weeks, with no eligible duration to claim proportionate pay.
Similarly, employed fathers or same-sex partners can claim 90% of their earnings for 1–2 weeks' paternity leave or longer as a part of shared parental leave – a right which people in self-employment do not enjoy.
This inequality in the benefit system impacts an increasing number of people. Currently over 4.6 million people are registered as self-employed, and between 2008 and 2011 women accounted for an unprecedented 80% of the new self-employed (ONS 2013).
WE call upon the government to urgently address this situation and ensure that self-employed parents have the same maternity, paternity and adoption leave and pay entitlements, as proposed in the 2016 Self-Employed Review conducted by Julie Deane OBE.