What are the Government doing about this now and what are the next steps?
The government recently launched a public consultation on maternity, paternity and parental leave that will allow campaigners and the public to contribute their views on Selfieleave. It closes in November and the government will be expected to publish a response on next steps. Any new legislation in this area would normally be preceded by this type of consultation so this is significant.
Why is shared parental leave an issue for the music industry?
72% of those working in performing arts including music are self-employed, much higher than the estimated 15% of the workforce overall.
What is the current situation when it comes to Shared Parental Leave for same-sex parents?
Same-sex parents can take shared parental leave if they are employed. For self-employed parents, only the biological mother is able to claim Maternity allowance, and there is no provision for fathers in a same-sex-couple, or mothers who are not the birth-mother.
Won’t changing the policy in this way fundamentally enable self-employed people to be entitled to other workers’ rights?
No. The Selfieleave proposal is for mothers who qualify for Maternity Allowance or Statutory Maternity Pay to be able to share this paid leave with a partner. It doesnt affect any other rights.
The uptake of Shared Parental Leave by eligible parents has been low so why is it necessary to extend it to the self-employed?
Self-employed people have no employment protections when they are off work, and often work on a project by project basis. The flexibility of sharing the leave between both parents would allow parents to take it in turns look after the baby and work, and women wouldn't be forced to have a long break which could lead to clients going elsewhere. The 'Balancing Act' report by Parents and Carers in Performing Arts (PiPA) showed that 73% of freelancers would take Shared Parental Leave if they could, so there is clear demand for this amongst the self-employed.
Does this system apply across the whole of the UK, or just England?
Maternity Allowance and Shared Parental Leave apply to the whole of the UK and are not devolved.
Do the same rules apply if you are self-employed and adopting?
Self-employed adopters are not entitled to any adoption pay or any shared parental, maternity or paternity pay. Introducing a self-employed adoption allowance would have an additional cost attached to it, and was among the recommendations of a 2016 government review into self-employment by Julie Deane MBE.
Self-employed people can choose when to work, so why can’t they just take time off when they want to?
Many self-employed people can't always choose when to work, they need to take work when it comes along, often at times dictated by the clients, so not all self-employed jobs are as flexible as they might appear, particularly in music, where much of the work needs to be in a particular place such as a venue or recording studio. And because there is no paternity or shared parental pay available, fathers who take time off around the birth of their child don't get paid, so many can't afford to take any time at all.
Why should the Government be responsible for supporting self-employed parents?
Self-employed people make up 15% of the workforce, pay taxes and are a vital part of the economy. The government already supports self-employed mothers by providing maternity allowance. Allowing self-employed men and women to share this money that is already allocated will ensure that fathers are more involved in the upbringing of their children and enable a more successful return to work for the mother, reducing the gender pay gap and leading to increased tax revenues.
How much will it cost the Government to implement this plan?
Extending eligibility for Shared Parental Leave and Pay to self-employed parents where the mother qualifies for either statutory maternity pay (if she is employed and her partner self-employed) or Maternity Allowance (if the mother and / or the father are self-employed) should cost no extra money as the money is already allocated.
Not all employed people are eligible. Why should the self-employed be eligible?
Eligibility for a self-employed SPL would be triggered by the mother as it is for employees. Self-employed mothers qualify for MA based on their class 2 NIC's, and self-employed fathers' eligibility criteria could be calculated in the same way. So only self-employed people who meet these same criteria would be eligible.