I agree with you on this important issue. We need to extend Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) to all types of workers.
The introduction of shared parental leave (SPL) and ShPP in 2015 was a positive and radical step. However, around 9% of women and 16% of men are not eligible for ShPP because they are self-employed. Extending ShPP to the self-employed would benefit around 24,000 self-employed mums claiming maternity allowance.
In 2017, the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices recommended that the Government address the issue of parental leave for the self-employed. Unfortunately, the Government did not accept this recommendation, arguing that it should only consider such changes in the wider context of tax, benefits and rights for the self-employed over the longer term.
The Government says it is undertaking an evaluation of SPL, including in relation to the self-employed and mothers who qualify for maternity allowance. Disappointingly, however, it has said this evaluation will not include any of the wider context it says it is necessary to consider to make any changes to the rights of the self-employed.
Self-employed people are the engine of our economy. They deserve to be respected. I believe the Government must address the important issues they face, including a lack of entitlement to various forms of parental pay. Indeed, at the 2017 general election I stood on a manifesto that pledged to extend the rights of employees, including shared parental pay specifically, to all workers, making a substantial and immediate difference to their quality of life.
A Bill to allow self-employed mothers to share their maternity allowance in a similar way to ShPP had its first reading in the House of Commons in February 2018. I support this Bill. Unfortunately, the next stage of its parliamentary process, second reading, has yet to take place, despite having been scheduled several times. A new date for the Bill’s second reading has yet to be given and it seems unlikely that the Bill will be able to progress any further through Parliament. Nevertheless, I can assure you that I will continue to monitor this issue and to press for the extension of ShPP to the self-employed at every opportunity.