17/09/2019: Luciana Berger warned the Government lagged behind over workers’ rights as Liberal Democrats threw their support behind plans to ensure self-employed parents benefit from shared parental leave.
The new Liberal Democrat MP highlighted the need for urgent Government action at a UK Music event in Bournemouth on Monday at the party’s conference where her fellow panellists were Lord Tim Clement-Jones (Lords Spokesperson for Digital), Judith Bunting MEP (European Parliament's Committee on Culture and Education & Liberal Democrat Party Spokesperson) and Olga FitzRoy (MPG Executive Director).
The event – titled “We Can Work It Out: #SelfieLeave & the campaign to help self-employed freelancers” – was chaired by UK Music CEO Michael Dugher.
It was also attended by UK Music chairman Andy Heath, Lib Dem DCMS spokesperson in the Lords Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter and Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Beatrice Bass, who earlier tabled a motion in the main conference hall calling for more support for grassroots music venues.
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. We are calling for an end to this unjust situation that has a huge impact on thousands of the 72 per cent of those in the music industry who are self-employed.
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.
Speaking at one of her first engagements since becoming a Lib Dem MP, Luciana Berger, who is also the All-Party Group on Music Vice-Chair, threw her full support behind the campaign and said:
“We know that we are moving away as a country from those mass workplaces, from mega-employers towards more start-ups, more SMEs and more freelancers, particularly in the creative sector.
“This campaign really forms part of a backdrop of a much bigger issue – that is how do we reinvent our laws and regulations, that protect workers, which were originally designed for our factories, fields and offices, to fit the world of work where people are working in flexible spaces.
“It’s too often the State which is lagging behind the changes in our real economy and the bottom line for me is that workers in the creative industries in this new economy…they must have the same workplace rights as people in more traditional PAYE employment.
“It’s just where we need to get to as a country and it’s only a matter of time. We have to be at the forefront of it.”
UK Music CEO Michael Dugher said:
“15 per cent of the UK working population are self-employed – 33 per cent if you go across the creative industries.
“Nearly three out of every four people in our industry are self-employed so that glaring inequality really is a huge issue for us.
“I’m really grateful for the support of the Lib Dems. Jo Swinson has done an awful lot on this personally.”
UK Music supported Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson’s Employment Rights (Shared Parental Leave and Flexible Working) Bill in April.
Coldplay and Doctor Who sound engineer Olga FitzRoy said:
“When he [her son] was about three-months-old I got offered a really good job recording quite a well-known band.
“This was a really exciting job for me, and I really wanted to take it, but I would have had to cancel all of my Maternity Allowance.
“With a three-month-old baby I couldn’t commit to going back to work full time. I didn’t want to put him in a full-time nursery, and we couldn’t afford for me not to get any income. So, I really reluctantly turned down that job.”
Lord Tim Clement-Jones welcomed Luciana Berger to the Liberal Democrat party and said he hoped she would work closely with the shadow DCMS team.
He went on to say that shared parental leave for the self-employed was a “crucial societal issue” and that “self-employed workers are being penalised an inflexible system.”
Judith Bunting MEP said:
“It’s one of these ideas which is so sensible you just cannot quite believe it got missed out in the first place and I think we should do everything we can to rectify that and I will certainly make an effort to get it into the manifesto for the election because it is critical.”
UK Music are holding further panel events as part of their #SelfieLeave campaign at both the Labour and Conservative party conferences. Details are below:
Monday 23 September: 12.30pm to 2pm, Arundel 2, Holiday Inn, Brighton, BN1 2JF.
Chair: Michael Dugher, Speakers: Vicky Foxcroft MP (Shadow DCMS Minister), Horace Trubridge (General Secretary, Musicians’ Union), Olga FitzRoy (MPG Executive Director)
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)