My colleagues Maddy Radcliff and John Shortell joined me outside Parliament this morning as we met highly-respected sound engineer Olga FitzRoy and many other names from the entertainment world in supporting the second reading of the “Shared Parental Leave and Pay (Extension)” bill, also known as the #SelfieLeave Bill, which will extend the right to shared parental leave to self-employed people, who are ineligible under current rules.
Shared Parental Leave (SPL) was brought in by the coalition government in 2015, however self-employed parents were not included in the new legislation. Self-employed mothers can claim Maternity Allowance, paid at the same rate as SPL, but they cannot split this leave into periods of work and pay, or share it with a partner, and self-employed men get no paid parental leave whatsoever. Fifteen per cent of the workforce (4.8 million) are self-employed in the UK.
The new law would be a major step forward for gender-equality, particularly in the creative industries where many are self-employed. Celebrity-supporters of the bill include Coldplay’s Chris Martin who has said, “This bill would finally give self-employed artists and technicians an opportunity to share parenting in a way that makes sense for them and their families.”
Amongst the gathering at the photo shoot were Tracy Brabin MP, Luciana Burger MP, Kevin Brennan MP, actress Lindsey Coulson and Alex Mann of Help Musicians UK.
Parental Pay Equality’s founder Olga said “We hope the government will use this opportunity to take this simple step for self-employed families. Politicians of all sides have supported the bill this far and we now need the government to commit to it.”
Tracy Brabin said, “With this Bill I have handed the Government a perfect opportunity to show they are really in touch with the modern world of work and that they are on the side of families. There is still time for them to adopt this common sense, cost-neutral proposal which allows self-employed parents to take maternity and paternity leave in a way that suits their family.”