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The IPSE supports Tracy Brabin – Labour’s Shadow Minister for Early Years and MP for Batley and Spen – in calling for Shared Parental Leave to be extended to the self-employed.

Jordan Marshall, IPSE’s Policy Development Manager, commented, “IPSE strongly supports Tracy Brabin’s move to extend Shared Parental Leave (SPL) to the self-employed so that parents have equal opportunities to care for their children.

“Presently, if you are self-employed, you can only access maternity allowance, not full maternity pay or shared parental leave. But with nearly five million people now working for themselves, it’s important the government extends to them the same offering.

“Considering the importance of self-employment to the UK economy – and the growing number of women choosing to work for themselves – it is simply not acceptable that there is still so little support for self-employed parents. The system is too rigid to benefit self-employed people who are looking to support their businesses.

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“Instead of having flexible parental leave options, self-employed people have no choice other than to take 39 weeks off with only ten ‘keeping in touch days’ to keep their businesses ticking over. This is extremely damaging because often self-employed people cannot afford to take 39 weeks off without harming the future of their businesses. For many, it is near-impossible to maintain client relations and other key businesses commitments in just ten short days. Instead, many self-employed people cut their leave short and, clearly, this is a problem.”

Marshall added, “Earlier this year figures released by the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) showed that the take-up for shared parental leave could be as low as two per cent. There are currently around 285,000 couples eligible, but very few of them seem to be making use of it which is clearly concerning. Extending the policy to the self-employed would certainly help boost uptake in a scheme that the government have spent £1.5 million promoting since 2015.

“Just as the self-employed inject flexibility into the economy, the parental benefits system needs a shot of flexibility too. IPSE is calling on the government to take the first step by extending shared parental leave to this vital and growing sector.”

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