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Stella Creasy, MP, has been turned down for locum cover to allow her to take six months’ maternity leave and is considering taking legal action if the decision is not reversed.
An MP who has had her appeal for full maternity cover turned down by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is considering taking legal action to ensure MPs have the right to maternity leave.
Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, has been informed by the IPSA that she will not be granted a locum for her role as MP. This is Stella Creasy’s second pregnancy and she was granted six months’ cover the first time around.
IPSA called the request for such cover ‘misconceived’ and suggested they could provide a sum of money for staffing – £35,000 over seven months – which could be used to pay for staff who would not be able to act in the absence of the MP. Instead they would be expected to ‘escalate matters to the MP’, meaning the MP cannot take maternity leave.
The decision comes after a Bill was voted through allowing ministers – but not other MPs – to have access to six months maternity leave on full pay.
Stella Creasy, who is campaigning for all MPs to have access to six months paid maternity and paternity leave, says: ‘’Maternity leave and pay are statutory and hard won rights for all women in the UK – but rights mean nothing if they cannot be realised. In the absence of like-for-like maternity cover, any MP faces significant challenges in terms of ensuring that her constituents are, and know that they are, properly represented and championed during her absence. Any reduction in the quality of representation during this time, perceived or actual, is likely to undermine the MP’s standing among her constituents. This could also discourage voters from supporting candidates who are of childbearing age for fear of suffering the same loss of representation should such a candidate decide to start a family during their term of office. IPSA has a duty to ensure it does not create discriminatory barriers to participation through its policies.”
Joeli Brearley, CEO and Founder of Pregnant Then Screwed who is supporting Creasy’s campaign, said: ”Parents need time to bond with their baby and women need time to recover from childbirth; this decision means that an MP can do neither, thereby forcing them to choose between their child and their constituents. This is bad for democracy and for equality. It is imperative that Parliament is a workplace that works for women if we are to ever have gender equality amongst those who make the laws to which we all adhere. If Parliament can’t get this right then what hope is there for the rest of us? This decision by IPSA not only impacts sitting MPs and their right to liberty and equality, it has huge consequences for all of us.’’
Creasy is seven months pregnant and in hospital with gestational diabetes. She has written to the interim CEO of IPSA, Ian Todd, requesting that he reconsider this decision and that if he refuses to do so she will be pursuing legal action. The letter has been signed by charities, campaigners and business groups.