23/09/2019: Ministers are facing a crescendo of calls for action to ensure self-employed parents benefit from shared parental leave.
Senior MPs and industry campaigners led the demands at a UK Music event to highlight the issue, which took place at Labour’s conference in Brighton today (Monday).
The speakers included Vicky Foxcroft MP (Shadow DCMS Minister), Tracy Brabin MP (#SelfieLeave Bill Sponsor), Horace Trubridge (General Secretary, Musicians’ Union) and Olga FitzRoy (Coldplay & Doctor Who sound engineer), who all warned action was long overdue.
The event - titled “We Can Work It Out: #SelfieLeave & the campaign to help self-employed freelancers” – was chaired by UK Music CEO Michael Dugher and focused on the challenges facing self-employed parents in the music industry.
UK Music wants the Government to urgently update shared parental leave and pay rules to include self-employed parents in the creative industries and across the UK workforce.
At present, self-employed parents have no way of sharing parental leave in the same way as other workers.
The organisation is calling for an end to the unjust situation that has a huge impact on thousands of professionals in the music industry, where 72 per cent of the work force are self-employed.
Vicky Foxcroft MP (Shadow DCMS Minister) said:
“This campaign is so important. We must make sure that these rights apply to everybody.”
She went on to say that Labour was determined to listen to the needs of the creative industries which accounted for one in ten jobs.
UK Music CEO Michael Dugher said:
“In the UK population as a whole around 15 per cent are self-employed and that’s a growing number.
When you look at the creative industries, it more than doubles to 33 per cent.
Then again, when you look at the people in performing music and visual arts the number goes up to 72 per cent who are self-employed, and who are denied access to the same rights as employed people. This is a really important issue for us.”
Olga FitzRoy (MPG Executive Director) told the event how she and her husband were not able to get shared parental leave when her son was born because she was self-employed.
She said: “I had to give up my freelance career as a sound engineer for nine months while I had a baby. When I went back to work it took quite a while to get back into it. I would say my son was about 18-months-old before I was working at the same level as before.”
Olga said she had turn down work with a major band “with a heavy heart” because she would have been forced to give up all her maternity leave to take up the offer.
Tracy Brabin MP, whose acting career saw her spend 35 years as a freelancer, said:
“So many women are being held back from being extraordinary in their careers because they choose to have children.”
She added: “What’s important and tragic is that without shared parental pay and leave, freelance dads are missing out on opportunities to bond with their baby. We have got to have a cultural shift.”
Horace Trubridge (General Secretary, Musicians’ Union) warned how denying self-employed parents the right to parental leave and other benefits was having an impact on the industry.
He said: “These people are being left out. They are being left behind.”
Changing the rules would allow parents greater flexibility over childcare decisions, help close the gender pay gap, enable mothers to maintain successful careers and give fathers the chance to care for their children.
UK Music is holding another panel event as part of our #SelfieLeave campaign at the Conservative Party conference. Details are below:
Conservative party conference:
Tuesday 1 October: 1pm to 2.15pm, Lancaster Room, Midland Hotel, Manchester, M60 2DS.
Chair: Michael Dugher, Speakers: Simon McVicker (Head of Policy, IPSE), Olga FitzRoy (MPG Executive Director), Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe (House of Lords)