MP Stella Creasy plans to sue Parliament over 'illegal' maternity cover for MPs

30 June 2021, 17:28

'We treat women like they're difficult for having babies.'

By Tim Dodd

Labour MP Stella Creasy has told LBC her offer of maternity cover would be 'illegal in any other workplace', as she's forced to continue elements of her role because Parliament doesn't allow full maternity cover.

It comes as the MP threatens legal action against Parliament after her request for full maternity cover was rejected.

The body which regulates parliamentary salaries, Ipsa, offers MPs £60,000 pro rata per year to hire extra staff, however responsibilities such as taking part in Commons debates are not allowed to be done by anyone except the MP themselves.

Ms Creasy began by telling Shelagh: "You might be able to hear in my voice, I'm very unwell. I've developed gestational diabetes, I've just been discharged from hospital, my immune system is kaput.

"Let me be very clear, I'm not asking for someone to go and speak in Parliament, I hope to be able to do that in my 'keep in touch' days. It's everything else. Yesterday because I was stuck in hospital, I had to cancel a meeting with all the secondary school heads in my local community.

"I had a locum with my first maternity leave. That was a brilliant woman who was able to have both the status to go and have meetings with ministers, represent my community, go on the media, talk about campaigning issues - that's what they're denying me now.

"That means that I will be dragged in from my maternity cover to fill those roles, so either my child will suffer or my constituents will suffer... It would be illegal in any other workplace what they've offered me."

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Shelagh then asked: "Is part of the resistance that there is a kind of sacred bond in a way between an elected member of Parliament, that can't easily be replaced, even temporarily?"

Ms Creasy replied: "What I'm asking for is not someone to become me, but somebody to be a locum, which is a well-established principle. If your GP is ill, you have a locum, you know it's not your GP but they're covering the role, and they have the status and salary to match.

"They're not asked to do something at a cut-price offer, which is what parliament is trying to get away with for backbenchers... If a teacher takes cover, parents and kids wouldn't be happy if only the teaching assistant was there for the next six months, so a member of staff really doesn't cut it.

"We treat women like they're difficult for having babies and yet we ask them to spend time with their children. Something has to change.

"If the place that makes the laws doesn't then uphold them, what message does that send to employers?"

Ms Creasy said that she is considering legal redress because there are also thousands of women across the country who are in similar situations.

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