Self-employed mums are fighting for the right to equal maternity pay after it was revealed that over half have ended up with mental health issues.
Calls have been made for the Government to address inequality in maternity pay. Campaigners are asking for self-employed mums to receive the same financial support as employed mums (90% of the first 6 weeks salary).
Maternity pay inequality
A recent GP-led study of 104 women revealed that over half of self-employed mums (59%) have experienced mental health issues caused by being forced to work immediately after giving birth.
The study was funded by a group of NHS doctors who decided to take action after seeing too many mums suffering in silence behind closed doors. The same group also founded GPDQ, a “doctor on demand app” that enables patients to book and see a GP in their own home.
Common issues reported by self-employed new mums include anxiety, general stress and depression caused by the amount of responsibility associated with running a business and having a newborn.
When asked how equality in maternity pay would have helped, 91 percent said they would have used the income to pay for extra support.
Becoming a mum has forced more than a third of self-employed mums to throw the towel in completely (35%) and almost half (43%) considered ceasing trading, but against all odds, they kept going.
Six Weeks Support Campaign
The ‘Six Weeks Support’ campaign includes a petition, which will lobby government for change.
Dr Kristy Lau, NHS locum GP and one of the GPs behind the study said: “In the UK, self-employed women continue to receive 90 percent less maternity pay in the first six weeks than their employed equivalents, an injustice that is taking its toll on the health of the mother and her ability to bond with her new child, as 45 percent have no choice but to continue to work as soon as the day after giving birth.
Siobhan Merrifield of the Association for Post-Natal Illness (APNI) supports the ‘Six Week Support’ Campaign: “These figures should urge government to consider equality in maternity pay, to enable self-employed new mums to draft in the support they need and deserve.”
Anne Suosilta, Volunteer Manager for the Pandas Foundation, which is responsible for providing for pre, and post-natal depression advice and support to mums, added: “The first six weeks after birth is a crucial time for mum’s mental health and PANDAS foundation are here to support. It is paramount that any additional pressures such as financial are removed – equality in maternity pay would absolutely help lighten the load.”
Sign the Petition!
The ‘Six Weeks Support’ campaign aims to apply pressure on the Government to review their maternity pay policy. This has also been requested by the Federation of Small Businesses, who asked the Government to address the difference between the self-employed and employees in the social security system.
If you think self-employed mothers deserve equal maternity pay, please sign the petition here.
Once the petition has reached 1000 supporters, a request will be submitted to government for positive change.