Were the Tories complicit in the great Covid-19 maternity pay dodge – or just incompetent as usual?

Cheated? If this (left) was a working mother who was pregnant in March, then it’s possible the government has colluded with her employer to cheat her out of her maternity pay.

Thousands of pregnant women may have been cheated out of maternity pay because the Tory government didn’t act fast enough to prevent employers from doing it.

The government changed rules in April, to ensure pregnant women and expectant fathers did not lose out on maternity/paternity pay if they had been furloughed on 80 per cent of their normal wage and had seen their pay fall below £120 a week (the cut-off point for wages below which the benefit isn’t payable).

But the same government imposed lockdown in March, meaning dodgy employers had a window of opportunity to put expectant mothers on a lower rate of pay that would eliminate their entitlement to 39 weeks of maternity pay worth thousands of pounds.

Pregnant women were classed as clinically vulnerable. They should have been sent home on full pay, but research by the Labour Party shows many were put on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) instead.

That is set at £95.85 per week, meaning any mother-to-be who has spent eight weeks shielding on that rate of pay would automatically miss out on maternity pay.

Sneaky, isn’t it?

Labour is calling for the regulations to be changed to ensure that people who were wrongly put on SSP in this way do not miss out on their maternity payments.

And the Tory government is refusing.

The Department for Work and Pensions is saying that anybody who has been affected in this way is welcome to take their case to an employment tribunal.

This will just gum up the tribunal system for no very good reason, and I can’t conceive of any good reason a government department would want to do that.

So we come to the question in the headline: were the Tories incompetent in failing to close this loophole in employment practice? Or were they complicit in helping employers cheat thousands of parents out of thousands of pounds?

Incompetence would be bad enough.

But from where I’m sitting, the Tories are guilty of something much worse.

Source: Pregnant women wrongly sent home on sick pay during pandemic, Labour says | Coronavirus outbreak | The Guardian

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