workingmums.co.uk has joined campaigners who have called out Parliament’s lack of recognition of parental leave.
Campaigners for parental rights have come out firmly in support of MP Stella Creasy after she wrote a powerful article on her experiences of pregnancy and miscarriage.
The Labour MP for Walthamstow wrote an article in today’s Guardian in which she talks about her pregnancy and previous miscarriages and stating that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, the body which authorises MPs’ spending, does not ‘recognise that MPs go on maternity leave’.
She says there is no maternity cover and that IPSE “feels no responsibility to make provision for any paid cover for what we do outside the parliamentary chamber: the campaigns, constituency casework and municipal work that all MPs do”.
Creasy says she therefore has to beg for extra funding or forego any time with her newborn. She cites the case of her colleague Tulip Siddiq who had to return to doing casework three days after a C-section. Others have managed some time off and let their work stack up or got sympathetic colleagues in neighbouring constituencies to cover their casework. Creasy also describes how some have taken their babies to constituency meetings so they can feed them.
There has been some progress over parental leave in the last year after a trial proxy voting system was brought in following concerns about an informal pairing system where MPs who were on leave pair uped with opposition colleagues to cancel out each others’ votes.
Creasy’s plea for maternity support has been backed by campaigners including the Fawcett Society and the Women’s Equality Party. Pregnant Then Screwed has issued a petition calling for MPs to be given the right to six months’ parental leave.
Gillian Nissim, founder of workingmums.co.uk, said: “Workingmums.co.uk was appalled to learn of the situation for women MPs seeking to start families which is highlighted by Stella Creasy today. It is 2019 yet Creasy reports that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, the body which authorises MPs’ spending, does not ‘recognise that MPs go on maternity leave’ and does not allow any extra spending to cover maternity leave. Presumably the same also applies to paternity leave.
“The message this sends out is that Parliament is still very much a man’s club, and a certain type of man at that. At a time when representation of women in political parties – and therefore representation of around half of the UK population – is a growing issue how does this help to encourage young women to consider a career in politics? Research study after research study shows the benefits of diverse workplaces where different points of view are represented.
“Parliament is responsible for providing the legal framework that drives diversity and democratic representation for all. It is therefore vital that it gets its own practice in order. We hope to see swift change in connection with Ipsa’s policy on maternity leave alongside wider changes in Parliament to encourage more women to enter the profession.”