Trade unions support Stella Creasy after Labour MP’s request for proper maternity cover was rejected

Trade unions support Stella Creasy after Labour MP’s request for proper maternity cover was rejected
‘What they are proposing would not be legal if MPs were employees and is the reason why so few women of childbearing age are in our public life,’ says Creasy

Trade unions and campaigners have backed Stella Creasy after the Labour MP’s request for proper maternity cover was rejected.

Ms Creasy said she is preparing to sue the government over the issue as she warned she will be forced to take her newborn baby into parliament during maternity leave to ensure her local constituents are not left unrepresented.

The Labour MP for Walthamstow, who has campaigned for improved maternity rights for MPs, is currently seven months pregnant and in hospital due to suffering from gestational diabetes.

Ms Creasy told The Independent the body in charge of the funding for MP’s maternity cover states there is no “constitutional” foundation for a locum. A locum is a person who temporarily replaces another individual of the equivalent profession.

The politician, who is being advised by Doughty Street Chambers, added: “Whilst we do not have a constitution, they do have duties under the equalities act to pregnant women. It’s time they recognised their responsibilities.

“For my first maternity leave, I appointed a locum who met with ministers, spoke in the media about issues affecting my constituents and oversaw my office.

“Yet this time around the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority [the body in charge of funding MP’s maternity cover] have refused to fund a person to have the status and salary required to perform this role, leaving me little option but to bring my baby to parliament so that my constituents are not left unrepresented.

“What they are proposing would not be legal if MPs were employees and is the reason why so few women of childbearing age are in our public life. Our politics cannot only be open to those with the independent means to employ a nanny or short change our constituents.”

Ms Creasy said while it could be “too late” for her to now receive the correct type of maternity cover, she urged the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority to reassess the current rules “for the sake of every other pregnant woman facing discrimination in the workplace”.

Trade unions and campaigners have urged parliament to uphold maternity rights for all in the wake of Ms Creasy’s situation.

Over 30 organisations, including general secretaries of leading trade unions, and leading gender equality charities such as Fawcett Society, Pregnant then Screwed, and Mumsnet, urged the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority to change its attitude to maternity cover.

But the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has said requests for backbench MPs to get “like for like” cover which cabinet ministers presently receive are “misconceived”.

It comes after Ms Creasy, the first ever MP to be granted locum maternity leave cover, recently threatened to launch legal proceedings against the government if they did not extend current maternity leave plans to all MPs.

Ministers have proposed news measures that will allow senior female politicians in the UK to take maternity leave without having to resign from their jobs. However, the proposal for six months paid time off only applies to cabinet ministers.

Newly proposed reforms were sparked by Suella Braverman, the attorney general, who would have been forced to step down from her cabinet role if she needed to take time off work after giving birth under the present system. The new laws ensure Ms Braverman, whose baby is due to be born in a few weeks, is able to take six months maternity leave on full pay and return to her cabinet position after her maternity leave ends.

Ms Creasy has previously said she was told by lawyers the current legislation is discriminatory due to only helping top ministers.

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