Former cabinet minister calls for 50 per cent increase in maternity pay

Maternity pay should be increased in order to give all mothers a
choice over whether to work or stay at home, according to former
cabinet minister Stephen Byers, writes Amy

Byers said that maternity pay should be increased from £100
to £150 per week. Currently mothers receive six weeks’
maternity pay at 90 per cent of their average earnings followed by
20 weeks pay at £100 per week.

Byers said that under these rates only well off mothers had a
choice over whether to go to work or stay at home.

He added that the possibility of making the money available for
parental leave instead of maternity leave, and therefore allowing
parents to decide who will stay at home should also be looked

At the moment, parental leave is unpaid (parents are entitled to
take 13 weeks in the first five years of the child’s life),
and paternity pay gives fathers £100 per week for two

Liz Kendall, director of Maternity Alliance, said: “We
need to move towards a European system with better paid maternity
leave followed by paid parental leave, part of which could be
reserved for fathers to support them to take on greater

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