Women are forced to choose between “being an MP and being a mum” because of Parliament’s rules, a pregnant Labour MP has said.
Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy said that Ipsa – the body which regulates MPs’ pay – told her it does not recognise when members go on maternity leave.
Consequently, no paid cover is available for work done outside the House of Commons.
Writing in the Guardian, Ms Creasy also revealed she has had two miscarriages.
She continued working “aching and bleeding” during her first miscarriage and led a public meeting the day after her second.
“Now I’m pregnant once more and terrified – not just that it will go wrong again, but because I know that my resolve to keep my private and professional lives separate has become impossible,” she said, explaining her reason for speaking out.
Ms Creasy said the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) turned down her approach for paid cover during maternity leave.
“Humiliatingly, it is making me beg for extra staff funding – or give up any chance of spending time with my child to make sure my constituents don’t miss out,” she wrote.
Maternity rights in the UK
- Women are entitled to up to 52 weeks maternity leave
- They must take at least two weeks’ leave after the baby is born (or four weeks if they work in a factory)
- They are eligible to be paid for six weeks at 90% of their average weekly earnings and 33 weeks at £149 per week or 90% of their average weekly earnings (if lower)
- Fathers can take two weeks’ statutory paternity leave at £149 a week
In January, MPs backed a year-long trial to allow MPs who were about to give birth or had recently become a parent to nominate another MP to vote on their behalf in the Commons.
The debate over Parliament’s rules was reignited when Labour’s Tulip Siddiq delayed a Caesarean section to attend a vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
Later that month, the Hampstead and Kilburn MP became the first to vote in the Commons by proxy.
However, in her Guardian article, Ms Creasy said the lack of maternity cover meant her colleague “had to return to casework three days after a C-section”.
“For all the talk of being family friendly, Westminster is still struggling to offer deeds instead of words,” she wrote.
“And if we can’t get this right for MPs, how can we get this right for parents elsewhere?”
In 2017, former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman called for MPs to be given six months’ maternity leave.