Thursday, February 11, 2021

Equality only for the privileged in the UK

The UK is a laggard on paid parental leave, offering only 6 weeks at 90% pay, followed by 33 weeks at less than the minimum wage (NZ isn't that hot either, BTW). But finally, some women are getting decent, paid leave: Ministers!

The government is facing a backlash over plans to change the law to give cabinet ministers six months’ maternity leave on full pay, allowing the attorney general, Suella Braverman, to keep her post after having her baby but excluding backbench MPs from similar rights.

Labour will back the move, but it has caused some disquiet among backbench MPs angry that the maternity rights will only apply to secretaries of state, and go further than those that apply to the general public.

Under existing laws, Braverman would have to resign if she wanted to take time off following the birth. MPs are entitled to take paid maternity leave but are not automatically guaranteed any cover, meaning in practice many do not take leave.

(One backbench MP is now threatening legal action over MPs being excluded)

Its great that UK Ministers are finally going to get paid maternity leave - its a matter of basic equality and removing an exclusionary policy. But it speaks volumes that they're hoarding it for themselves, and denying it to others. Don't backbench MPs also deserve to be able to keep their jobs if they become parents? Doesn't everybody else? Clearly, the Tories don't think so. This needs to be followed up with a similar extension to every woman. Otherwise, its just further entrenching existing privilege and inequality.