The Shared Parental Leave and Pay (Extension) Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 21 February 2018 by Tracy Brabin MP. If passed, the Bill would extend Shared Parental Leave (SPL) rights to self-employed contractors by allowing them to share maternity allowance (currently available to self-employed mothers instead of statutory maternity pay) in the same way employed parents share SPL pay. The Bill aims to create parity between the traditionally employed and the self-employed in their ability to share SPL with their spouse or partner.

Under the existing legislation, a self-employed mother is entitled to a maternity allowance of £140.98 a week for 39 weeks if they have paid class 2 national insurance for at least 13 of the 66 weeks before their child is due. Maternity allowance is paid only to mothers, but it is withdrawn if the freelance mother does any work beyond the statutory 10 “keeping in touch” days that she is allowed. Under the Bill, self-employed contractors will be entitled to SPL and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (SSPP), enabling them to take paid and unpaid leave more flexibly following the birth or adoption of a child.

As well as creating parity, Tracey Brabin MP proposed the Bill will combat the culture stigma around SPL by increasing it’s overall uptake and sending “a strong message to the country not only that we understand the changing face of work, but that men and women are valued equally in the home and the workplace”. A survey conducted by Parental Pay Equality found that over 70% of freelancers or those with freelance partners would use the scheme if it was available to them.

The Bill is a Private Members’ Bill and its second reading is scheduled to take place on Friday 11 May 2018.

The introduction of the Bill follows the recent launch of the Government “Share the Joy” campaign which aims to improve the uptake of shared parental leave by new parents by raising awareness of the scheme (see our blog of 15 February on the topic: