Stella Creasy writes about how as a member of parliament, she won’t be entitled to maternity leave. Her comments ring true for many professional new and expectant mums
In what might come as a surprise to many of us, Stella Creasy has written about how MPs are not entitled to maternity pay.
For far too many women, the personal inevitably becomes political when reproduction is involved
The Labour and Co-operative MP, who made public that she was expecting her first baby in June, says she now effectively has to choose between having a child and a career.
In a recent article she wrote for The Guardian, Ms Creasy explains that the decision she is being forced to make comes after suffering several miscarriages. She chose not to talk about these at the time, even scheduling necessary medical procedures after the miscarriages around parliamentary work.
She writes: ‘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.
‘I’m coming forward publicly to talk about it because, as for far too many women, the personal inevitably becomes political when reproduction is involved.’
She explains that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), which regulates the pay of MPs, has a duty to pay MPs for parliamentary duties inside the chamber.
But it does ‘not recognise’ that MPs go on maternity leave. Therefore it does not feel obliged to pay for the large amount of work MPs perform outside of the chamber, such as campaigns and constituency casework.
Ms Creasy highlights in her article that the legal advice service Pregnant Then Screwed receives on average 350 calls every year
While not performing such a high-profile role, whether to have a career or a child is a choice that many expectant and new mums have to face.
Whether facing prohibitive childcare costs, or dealing with unstable contracts or unscrupulous employers, many mums feel that returning to work isn’t a viable option.
Ms Creasy says: ‘Britain still has a long way to go to ensure that fertility isn’t a barrier to equality. A third of employers think it’s acceptable to ask women about their plans for having a baby at a job interview.
‘Non-disclosure agreements are used frequently to cover up pregnancy discrimination…
’From the parliamentary authorities to our healthcare services and workplaces, it’s time to stop asking nicely for the discrimination to be dealt with.’