Share the joy: Bill extending shared parental leave and pay to self-employed


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Posted on 08 Mar 2018

Labour MP, Tracy Brabin, is hoping to extend shared parental leave and pay to self-employed contractors.  

The MP presented the Shared Parental Leave and Pay (Extension) Bill to Parliament on 21 February 2018.  Under the Bill, self-employed contractors will be able to share parental leave and pay in much the same way as shared parental leave and pay currently works for those in more conventional employment. 

Currently, self-employed mothers may claim maternity allowance for up to 39 weeks but fathers cannot claim it.  In addition, the mother may lose her entitlement if she does any work beyond the statutory 10 “keeping in touch” days. Under the Bill, self-employed parents would be able to share maternity allowance and take it in blocks, whilst the other parent works. The Bill does not propose any increase in maternity allowance and so it appears there would be no additional cost to the taxpayer. 

The Bill recognises that shared parental leave is an area where self-employed people lose out. It follows the Government’s “share the joy” campaign which aims to improve the uptake of shared parental leave by new parents.  It is estimated that only 2% of employees take shared parental leave and the MP believes the Bill will improve this.  She cites a survey conducted by Parental Pay Equality which found that over 70% of freelancers, or those with freelance partners, would use the scheme if it was available to them. 

The Bill is a Private Members’ bill, meaning that it has not been introduced by the Government.  Whilst few Private Members’ bills become law, they may do so where they receive cross-party support. The Bill is due to have its second reading on Friday 11 May 2018. 

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