Unions welcome Labour’s maternity pay pledge

Unions have welcomed today’s announcement that if Labour win the election they will increase Statutory Maternity Pay from nine to twelve months, allowing all working mothers to spend a full year with their new born babies before going back to work.

Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “Maternity rights are always high on Usdaw’s agenda. Discrimination against working mothers is a growing issue and we remain absolutely committed to providing a strong voice for their needs and concerns. So we very much welcome this commitment to extended maternity pay, yet another reason why working people need a Labour government.

“The current system of 12 months leave, but only 9 months pay, means that the amount of time a mother can spend with her baby in its first year is dependent on how wealthy she is. So this is very welcome progress towards extending access to  maternity pay and leave to women in lower paid jobs on short hours contracts.”

TSSA assistant general secretary Lorraine Ward said: “What Labour offer today are real improvements for working women.

“Women are often forced to give up work to care for new babies because of the costs of taking unpaid time off work and the difficulties finding childcare. A Labour government will allow new mothers to take paid maternity leave for 12 months meaning more women can stay in employment. Plans to extend parental leave will give more partners the chance to spend more time with their children. Parents will be able to find the solutions that work for them instead of having to find the “least worst” option – which usually means the mother’s career suffers.

On other announcements, Lorraine Ward said: “Menopause affects 13 million women a year. Our union is already pushing for workplace policies with our employers. A Labour government will break the stigma associated with menopause and force large employers to offer menopause policies.

“Flexible working can make the difference between mothers being able to stay in work and having to leave. Too often employers put workers in the position of having to defend their need for flexible working, with yearly reviews and an emphasis on convenience for the employer. The new “presumption in favour of flexible work” will put the shoe on the other foot, making it easier for all workers to get the flexible working pattern they need.

“We know that the best way to ensure workers can access their rights is by membership of a trade union. Giving Trade Union Equality Reps statutory recognition, training, and paid time off, like Health & Safety Reps will strengthen unions’ ability to defend their members’ rights.

“The message to women today is clear. Only Labour will defend and improve your rights in the workplace. Labour is the only choice that makes sense for women of any age.”

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