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Labour urges government to act over bosses failing to pay shielding pregnant women full wages during Covid crisis

CAMPAIGN group Pregnant Then Screwed backed Labour today in its push for the government to act against bosses who have illegally sent home expectant mothers on sick pay rather than full wages during the coronavirus outbreak.

Since March, pregnant women whose employers were unable to make adjustments to ensure workplace safety should have been sent home on full pay.

Pregnant women’s earnings are also used to calculate their Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), and many could get less SMP, or none at all, as a result of having previously been put on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). 

Labour said that the government should discount Covid-related periods on SSP in order to prevent this from happening.

To qualify for SMP, an employee’s average weekly earnings must be at least £120. The current weekly rate of SSP is £95.85. 

Joeli Brearley, Pregnant Then Screwed’s CEO, said: “It’s almost as if pregnant women are being punished twice, once by incorrectly being put on SSP and a second time via their qualification for maternity pay.

“We are really pleased to see Labour push this issue with the government. 

“We wrote to [Health Secretary] Matt Hancock in April to raise this breach of employment law and asked him to issue clear unequivocal guidance to employers about safety of pregnant workers during the pandemic. Still, nothing has been forthcoming.” 

The group’s recent survey found that 46 per cent of the 20,000 women who had been pregnant and sent home due to health and safety were suspended from work on incorrect terms such as SSP.

In April, the government amended SMP regulations to ensure that pregnant women did not lose entitlement as a result of being furloughed on 80 per cent of their wages.

But the government has refused to amend regulations to discount Covid-related SSP.

Shadow employment rights secretary Andy McDonald said: “The government needs to act now, end this injustice and protect pregnant women’s rights.”      

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