Having a new baby is an exciting time but it’s also an expensive one. Low rates of statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay make it very difficult for parents on lower incomes to spend the time they would like to with their child in its first year.
The new April 2022 rate of Statutory Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Pay is only £156.66 a week - less than half the weekly earnings of someone on the national living wage.
The majority of Usdaw members who are new mothers feel compelled to return to work before the end of their maternity leave because Statutory Maternity Pay is too low and the last 13 weeks of the maternity leave period are unpaid.
Nine out of ten new mothers tell us they would have liked more time off with their baby and almost all say that the reason they return to work before the end of their 52-week maternity leave period was because they could not afford to stay off work any longer.
Usdaw General Secretary Paddy Lillis says:
“Whilst Usdaw has worked closely with employers over the years to negotiate better pay during maternity, paternity and adoption leave Government need to raise the statutory payment. The value of Statutory Maternity Pay and other payments for new working parents has steadily declined over time. It is now worth less than half the value of the national living wage. Low levels of Statutory Maternity Pay have been compounded in recent years by a five-year benefit freeze on child benefits, and cuts and caps to in-work benefits. Now families find themselves in the midst of a cost of living crisis putting new parents’ budgets under extreme pressure at a time when they are already overstretched by the extra costs of having a new baby.
“Lack of money should not be the main factor in making decisions about who looks after a new baby and for how long.
“Usdaw has long campaigned for Government to raise the low rate of maternity, paternity and adoption pay to at least the equivalent of the ‘Real Living Wage’ (almost doubling the weekly payment), giving new parents real choices about the time they spend with their new baby in its first year.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with around 360,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion