A Labour MP has threatened legal action after the Government announced that a law would be altered to allow ministers to take paid maternity leave.
Labour MP, Stella Creasy, has threatened legal action against the Government’s new bill which would allow ministers to take six months paid maternity leave.
Prior to this, female ministers were expected to resign their position if they were having a child.
This change in the law has been prompted by the pregnancy of Suella Braverman, Attorney General and a key member of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke about the law change, stating it was “not acceptable” for female MPs to have to choose between keeping their job or resigning in order to look after their newborn child.
However, Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, has called this change in law a form of discrimination as it only extends to Government ministers and some members of the Shadow Cabinet.
Ms. Creasy argued for this treatment to be extended to all, including back-bench MPs, and says that the Bill in its current form only “benefits a very small number of women”.
Ms. Creasy continued:
This only benefits a very small number of women, and to only benefit a very small number of women at this time in this country’s life is to fail to recognise the peril that potentially comes from this legislation.
That it is not about the drafting, but the scope, of this legislation. We are sending a message that paternity leave should be a perk conferred by your employer just as a company car would be.
In addition to this, a group of women’s rights organisations, led by the Centenary Action Group, stated that this legislation would “set a precedent of a two-tier system of maternity and paternity rights”.
The group also felt that more could be done to financially support mothers, noting that statutory maternity pay and maternity allowance “is just £151.20 per week, equivalent to about half of the national minimum wage”.
This criticism comes just days after the the Women and Equalities Committee found that governmental policies linked to COVID support has consistently overlooked the labour market and caring inequalities faced by women.