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Industry backs equality for self-employed fathers

Music stars including Coldplay's Chris Martin have joined forces with campaigners to change legislation that denies self-employed fathers paternity leave

By Molly Long on 15 Jun 2018

Chris Martin performing with Coldplay

Chris Martin performing with Coldplay in Japan.

image © Christopher Johnson Flickr

Ahead of father’s day this year, campaigners and the music industry have joined forces to demand action over shared parental leave for self-employed fathers. Campaign group Parental Pay Equality, backed by UK Music, have criticised the government for what they say is continual inaction over the needs of self-employed parents.

According to new figures from the Trades Union Congress (TUC), almost 100,000 new fathers are missing out on paid paternity leave because their self-employed worker status means they don’t qualify for government schemes. Last year this number was over 110,000, which worked out to around one in five dads.

Under current schemes, self-employed mothers can claim maternity allowance but self-employed fathers get no paid parental leave whatsoever. Labour MP Tracy Brabin is at the forefront of the campaign to change this in Westminster with her #SelfieLeave Bill.

The music industry is filled with many self-employed workers and this year’s campaign has attracted the attention of many well-known fathers. Speaking about the campaign, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, a dad of two, says: “So many of our crew, both in the studio and on the road, are freelance, and we don’t want to lose half of that talent when they become parents.”

“If women are forced to always be the main carers, we all lose out massively.”

Parental Pay Equality was founded by award-winning sound engineer Olga FitzRoy. She has criticised the government for promoting the idea of shared parenting but not legislating it into reality. She says: “They [the government] seem happy to exclude a quarter of fathers from hands-on parenting.

“If they were serious about improving shared parental leave they would immediately adopt the proposals in the #SelfieLeave bill that is before Parliament at the moment.”

The TUC, the source of the new figures, has also highlighted how change to the current system would benefit new mothers too. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady explains: “When parents share caring responsibilities it helps strengthen relationships – and makes it easier for mothers to continue their careers.”

This idea was echoed by another father in the music industry, Rudimental’s Piers Aggett. A father of one, Aggett is also a supporter of the campaign. He says: “Artists need the ability to share parenting according to need.

“If women are forced to always be the main carers, we all lose out massively. It’s time for change.”


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