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Maternity Leave – Better Business Support

Comment 9th July 2010

Dealing with maternity is currently a costly burden for any company, and disproportionally so for a small business. The effect is that female wages are often lower and there can be discrimination against potential mums during hiring and their career. Rather than use laws saying you must treat everyone equally which would mean that less women are hired in the first place why not remove one of the biggest obstacles by supporting business more by:

  • Increasing the NI rebate to cover all of the SMP, Employers NI paid on this, holiday pay and reasonable benefits (currently this costs a company several thousand pounds for a full time member of staff)
  • A grant of several thousand pounds (pro rata for part time) to help with covering the position during maternity leave. This would help with recruiting, training, administrative time and higher wages paid to temporary staff.
  • Standard contracts, letters and forms in an easy to follow handbook to allow smaller employers without an HR department to easily administer maternity
  • Have a check list that shows complete compliance with all maternity requirements. Currently you never know if you have actually done everything, very stressful and inefficient!
  • Targeting these reforms at small and medium sized business who most need the help
  • Look at a compulsory maternity insurance policy so that all companies contribute a small amount each year for each employee (male of female). The costs are shared by the many and there is then decent support to the small business that loses half of it's staff to maternity leave.

Why does this matter?

  • If every business already has the cost there is less reason to discriminate
  • Costs are shared fairly between all. There should be no actual increase in the costs overall.
  • Reduces the impact on really small business. Currently a company with 5 staff could lose 20% or 40% of the workforce along with the thousands of pounds of costs for each member of staff on maternity
  • Small business would feel that there was real support available
  • Businesses that traditionally employ more women would be more open to recruiting
  • Remove a very real barrier to starting or expanding a business
  • Women would feel that they are better supported and less of a burden
  • Less need for lots of sex discrimination and equality laws which have unintended consequences or just make lawyers richer
  • Removes much of the stress from small business owners who often struggle both financially and with keeping up with legislation and requirements
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