Now, it\’s true that she won\’t be able to claim maternity pay as she\’s employed as a freelance, but, umm, this is a problem that a large number of businesses face:
No sooner had the newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky announced that she was pregnant than the applications to stand in for her started to arrive.
“It’s a very hot spot and we’ve already had plenty of inquiries but they are a bit previous,” Chris Shaw, senior controller of Five, says. “She’s not planning to stop newsreading for quite some time yet and as we approach that date we’ll obviously begin to think about finding someone to stand in for her.”
It is a mere six weeks since Kaplinsky joined Five on a £1 million salary, and one week since Mr Shaw enthused about the “Natasha effect” that had produced a 72 per cent rise in the programme’s ratings.
It is also only a week since Sir Alan Sugar made his controversial remarks about how women should state their intentions about having babies to recruiting employers.
It\’s one of the reasons for the gender pay gap. Given that a woman of fertile age might (note, might) do this, and that you\’re not actually allowed to ask them whether they intend to, means that employers will be reluctant, to an extent, to take the risk. This being so, the risk will be covered by offering a lower salary.
Now as to what to do about it all, well, that\’s where the problems start. For if we want to insist that women do indeed get statutory maternity pay and leave, and that their jobs must be held open for them to return if they wish (although with no insistence that they actually do so) then we also have to accept the corollary that this will influence the wages of those offered these options.
Note, not just those who use these options, but all of those who potentially might.
Or we could say that the inequality of pay is the greater problem, part of the solution to which would be a limiting of those options surrounding maternity leave and pay.
But it is one or the other, not both.