Maternity and Paternity Pay for the self employed

Maternity and Paternity pay are wonderful things – and something the Labour Party can be proud of. Hwever, the legislation they brought in to enforce paternity pay has a glaring ommission if you are self-employed. You have to pay your staff paternity or maternity pay, but you can’t claim it yourself.

This is not a sin by omission I don’t think – I think the self-employed have been deliberately left out.

Now the whole area is earmarked for reform, so I wrote to Kevin Barron about it on 20th April

Dear Kevin Barron,

Please send your reply to me via email to

I notice that reforms of maternity and paternity pay are underfoot. As I am about to become a parent myself this is something that I have been looking into.

The changes proposed by the Human Rights Commission (the Guardian’s summary is here – but in essence it is to give mothers 26 weeks maternity pay at 90% of their salary, fathers two weeks at 90%, and then three blocks of ‘parental leave’ lasting about four months, to be taken by either parent before the child is five with the first 8 weeks at 90% of salary) are laudable, and a huge improvement on what is now on offer.

However, maternity and paternity pay currently do not apply if you are self-employed – as I am. I am obliged to pay my staff paternity and maternity pay, but I cannot claim it myself, which leaves me out of pocket if I am to have time off when my child is born as I will have to pay someone else to do my job.

I guess the reasons the current arrangements were set up so that the self-employed cannot claim aren’t that important at this stage, although as the legislation was clearly deliberately set up this way I’d be interested to know if you could find out why the self-employed are excluded, and your own views on the fairness or otherwise of this arrangement.

However, the main point of this letter is to make you aware of this inequality, to seek your views on the matter, and to urge you to ensure that the revised arrangements don’t exclude the self-employed.

Yours sincerely,


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