Tag Archives: pregnant

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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Tory Britain: Homeless children are born on the street – while privileged pensioners have helicopter rides from hospital

In the shadows: the plight of homeless people is overlooked – unless highlighted by the media. Meanwhile others are given every luxury due to nothing more than an accident of birth.

This is the truth of Boris Johnson’s brave new Britain: the public purse can pay for the privileged to have helicopter rides home from hospital, while a homeless woman didn’t qualify for hospital treatment until after she had given birth on a cold Cambridge street.

The woman, aged around 30, gave birth to twins who were around 11 weeks premature on Sidney Street, outside Trinity College, Cambridge on Monday.

Is this the kind of medical care the fifth-largest economy in the world provides to its people?

How did this woman become homeless? Was she unable to pay the bills because Tory wage or benefit policies are so prejudiced against the poor (which means most of us)?

Homelessness has rocketed under Conservative rule – and this can only be because Conservative policies dictated that it should happen.

And a homeless person, living on the streets, dies every 19 hours.

One would expect that pregnant women who are homeless would be particularly vulnerable to an early death – especially those in desperate need of medical help because they were giving birth.

Death during childbirth used to be tragically common, after all.

No doubt this would make the Tories unbearably happy; it’s one less “useless eater”.

I read also, today, that the Duke of Edinburgh enjoyed a helicopter ride home after a four-day stay in hospital due to a “pre-existing condition”.

You see how it is?

The privileged people in our society get to have the very best – a place in hospital whenever they need or want it, and the extravagance of a trip home by helicopter – whenever they want it.

And all on state benefits. The Duke is on the Civil List, remember – and that is a state-funded benefit.

Why aren’t the rest of us afforded the same treatment – why wasn’t the homeless mother offered it, if the cash is available to pay for him to receive such treatment?

I’m not begrudging him the treatment; I’m questioning a government that is happy to fund such extravagance for him, while begrudging even a minimum of treatment for her.

It all could have been different, too. Labour would have provided a home and dignity to the woman, and she would have been able to enjoy appropriate hospital treatment.

But 14 million voted Tory. A child becomes homeless every eight minutes (including the two who were born homeless on Monday).

And the benefits we enjoy depend on the identity of our parents (or spouses) rather than being rights enjoyed by everyone.

That’s something to think about, over Christmas.

Source: Homeless woman gives birth to premature twins on a cold street outside Cambridge University college – Cambridgeshire Live

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Stella Creasy is right: Nobody should be forced to choose between their career and motherhood

Facing discrimination: Stella Creasy.

At first it may seem very much a First World problem: Labour’s Stella Creasy has written a Guardian article apparently complaining that Parliamentary rules make it almost impossible for women to be both MPs and mothers.

Ms Creasy has a stake in this matter; she is expecting a baby and is currently having to deal with a deplorable lack of support from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

I was ready to be extremely unsympathetic. Think of all the women who have suffered unfair discrimination – for many reasons, not least because of pregnancy, especially since the Conservatives took office in 2010.

If you are a woman who has suffered such prejudice, please feel free to tell us all about it in the comment column.

But it seems Ms Creasy was prompted to put finger to keyboard by more than just her own situation.

She writes: “If we can’t get this right for MPs, how can we get this right for parents elsewhere?

“Britain still has a long way to go to ensure that fertility isn’t a barrier to equality. A third of employers think it’s acceptable to ask women about their plans for having a family at a job interview. Non-disclosure agreements are used frequently to cover up pregnancy discrimination, with the legal advice service Pregnant Then Screwed receiving on average 350 calls a year.”

And in fairness to her, Ms Creasy has also used her position to try to ensure that people who aren’t in work, or who do not earn very much, still have access to a reasonable standard of living – and I think we can include the means to bear children as part of that.

Her voting record shows that she has supported equality and human rights; voted to increase state benefits at least in line with inflation; opposed laws to cut housing benefit; and supported increased benefits over longer periods for people with illnesses and disabilities.

All these actions suggest that Ms Creasy believes people should have more life choices, including the choice of whether – and when – to have a child. She walks the walk, besides talking the talk, it seems.

My own opinion is clear: Your body – your choice. The only person with a right to dictate when – or whether – a woman has a child is the woman herself.

It’s nothing to do with employers. In fact, pregnancy discrimination is a hypocritical nonsense in a country where successive neoliberal governments have tried to make a virtual of workforce “flexibility” – meaning people don’t stay in the same job for long anyway.

It’s certainly nothing to do with lawmakers. The idea of legislating against a biological imperative is bizarre.

And, coming back to the reason Ms Creasy wrote her article, it’s certainly not a matter for the Parliamentary organisation concerned with standards.

Fair enough – MPs’ private lives should not interfere with their work representing their constituents.

But there are many ways that they can keep on top of the matters of the day – and have their say on them – while discharging their responsibilities as mothers.

The question for IPSA, as for employers across the country, is not how to prevent women from taking maternity leave; it is how to support them when they do – or, more damning, why they do not.

Source: I’m pregnant and forced to choose between being an MP and a mum | Stella Creasy | Opinion | The Guardian

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Woman’s benefits sanctioned when she is 23 weeks pregnant

141216pregnantwomansanctioned

Here’s another great success story for the DWP – Iain Duncan Smith must be revelling in it.

The above woman (wearing costume so the Jobcentre staff don’t recognise her) was sanctioned when 23 weeks pregnant. The reason you may ask…. for attending a work fare interview (work for nothing) at B&Q, according to The Poor Side of Life.

Whilst at the interview they noticed that she was pregnant and they said yep we will put you on light duties…. The jobcentre decided otherwise… in their words “we are sanctioning you because you told them that you were pregnant”.

Much more information is available on the Poor Side of Life blog – you are encouraged to visit it and read on.

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The real reason for THAT announcement – revealed

Found on Facebook:

leaving-pregnant

You have to admit, the timing of the announcement that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are about to have another baby came suspiciously soon after the poll revealing that more Scottish people are likely to vote ‘yes’ to independence, and also suspiciously soon after the Queen expressed her Royal displeasure at the thought of being the last Queen of Scotland (just remember it was your relative David Cameron who was responsible, Ma’am)!

The excuse for the early announcement – that the Duchess was having very strong morning sickness again and was having to miss official engagements – is very handy as all she had to do was not turn up anywhere. That’s not to say it isn’t true – merely that it is… convenient.

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Tories and scandal (go together like a horse and carriage)

Scene of the - er - indiscretions: The Light ApartHotel in Manchester. [Image: Sunday Mirror.]

Scene of the – er – indiscretions: The Light ApartHotel in Manchester. [Image: Sunday Mirror.]

The Party of Sleaze shoots itself in the foot yet again.

It seems the Conservative Party has been keeping documentary evidence of Tory MPs’ indiscretions, crimes and bad behaviour in a “black book” (actually a blue folder), but this has now been destroyed for fear that the Party might be forced to reveal its contents under the Freedom of Information Act.

The information in the “book”, which was destroyed a little more than four years ago as the Tories prepared for the 2010 general election, was used by party whips – its official title was “Whips’ Notes” – if they needed to persuade a colleague to support legislation they opposed, or a minister under fire.

Sources within the Conservative Party say this persuasion did not go as far as blackmail – although you are perfectly entitled to form your own opinion about this, dear reader.

The book’s existence was revealed by the Sunday Mirror, which also carried details of several more ‘sleaze’ scandals, including allegations that:

  • Taxpayers indirectly funded a £2,500 suite in the Light ApartHotel, used for a gay sex party during the Conservative Party’s 2011 conference in Manchester.
  • Senior Conservatives regularly tried to seduce male parliamentary workers after getting drunk at the House of Commons.
  • MPs and peers used ‘date rape’ drugs on junior activists, and paid for abortions after getting their staff pregnant.

The claims are eerily reminiscent of sleaze scandals from the Conservative Parliaments of 1979-1997, in which Cecil Parkinson was forced to resign after impregnating his secretary; David Mellor’s extra-curricular sporting activities with Antonia de Sancha; and sex scandals involving Tim Yeo and the Earl of Caithness.

The headline of this article is based on a song and is intended to evoke comparisons between ‘love and marriage’ and ‘Tories and scandal’.

To close, let’s remember another well-known saying and conclude that if a leopard cannot change its spots, neither can a Tory resist sleaze.

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Are you going to let David Cameron abolish your rights without a fight?

Skewed view: This image (not mine) provides a startlingly accurate representation of the way British Conservatives see Europe. Do you honestly think they can be trusted to honour the human rights that European laws have granted us?

Skewed view: This image (not mine) provides a startlingly accurate representation of the way British Conservatives see Europe. Do you honestly think they can be trusted to honour the human rights that European laws have granted us?

You do realise what David Cameron means when he says he wants to re-negotiate our membership of the European Union, don’t you?

For a start, he means he wants to abolish laws that protect the human rights your ancestors fought tooth and nail to win for you.

He won’t make any deals in your interest. That’s not in his nature.

If he gets his way, you could lose the right to:

  • Written terms and conditions of work, and a job description – and the right to the same terms and conditions if transferred to a different employer.
  • Four weeks’ paid leave from work per year.
  • Not be sacked for being pregnant, or for taking time off for ante-natal appointments.
  • Come back to work after maternity leave, on the same pay, terms and conditions as before the leave started.
  • Health and safety protection for pregnant women, new and breastfeeding mothers.
  • Parental leave.
  • Equal treatment for workers employed through an agency.
  • Tea and lunch breaks during the working day for anyone working six hours or more
  • One day off per week.
  • Time off for urgent family reasons.

In addition, Cameron could relieve employeers of the legal obligation to ensure the health and safety of their workers, including undertaking risk assessments, acting to minimise risks, informing workers of risks, and consulting on health and safety with employees and their representatives. In his cost-cutting brave new Britain you’d just have to take your chances.

Health and safety representatives from trade unions could lose the right to ask employers to make changes in order to protect workers’ health and safety, and they would lose their protection against unfair treatment by their employer for carrying out their duties in relation to this.

The ban on forcing children less than 13 years of age into work could be lost, along with the limit on the hours children aged 13 or more and young people can work.

Children who could then be forced into work, regardless of the effect on their education, would have no rules protecting their health and safety, and the rules that say they can only be employed doing “light work” could also be abolished.

Protection from discrimination or harassment at work on grounds of gender, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation – direct or indirect – could be dropped.

And the right of disabled people to expect their employers to make reasonable adjustments for them at work could also be abolished.

These are just your rights at work!

Cameron himself has said, as leader of the Opposition: “I do not believe it is appropriate for social and employment legislation to be dealt with at the European level. It will be a top priority for the next Conservative government to restore social and employment legislation to national control.”

And as Prime Minister: “Complex rules restricting our labour markets are not some naturally occurring phenomenon. Just as excessive regulation is not some external plague that’s been visited on our businesses.”

To find out what he meant by those words, we must turn to the former leader of the British Conservative MEPs, Martin Callanan, who said: “One of the best ways for the EU to speed up growth is to … scrap the Working Time Directive, the Agency Workers Directive, the Pregnant Workers Directive and all of the other barriers to actually employing people if we really want to create jobs in Europe.”

Of course, they distort the facts. These rules aren’t barriers to employing people at all; they are structures within which people may be employed responsibly.

The Tories want to ban responsibility in the workplace. They want a return to dangerous employment conditions, abuse of workers and the removal of any legal protection from such abuse that they may have.

They will tear apart your rights at work.

So, if you are living in the UK and you’ve got a job, please take a moment to consider what this means for you. You might agree with the Coalition on its benefits policy that has led to thousands of deaths of sick and disabled people; you might agree with its bedroom tax and too-low benefit cap that has led to a rapid rise in debt and homelessness among the unemployed and those on low wages.

But now you know they’re coming for you, too.

What are you going to do about it?

Are you going to sit on your thumbs and do nothing – just meekly wait for them to rock up and tell you they’ve abolished all your rights at work and you can now go and slave for them in appalling conditions with absolutely no legal protection at all?

In other words, when it’s you that’s threatened, are you going to let it happen, just like you let it happen to the sick, disabled, unemployed and low-waged?

Or are you going to take action and make a difference?

It doesn’t take much. You could write to David Cameron and to your MP at the House of Commons. You could email them – just look up the addresses on They Work For You, or you could add your name to the letter being created by Unions Together. Yes, I know Mr Cameron says the unions are a bad thing, but in this case the enemy of your enemy is your friend.

As the leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party, Glenis Willmott MEP, says: “Our rights at work are not ‘red tape’ to be slashed away. Don’t let Cameron and the Tories get away with this great European scam.”

Abortion debate: Some Tories just can’t keep their mouths shut

In the 1966 movie Alfie, the main character (Michael Caine) impregnates another man’s wife (played by Vivien Merchant) and has to take her to a backstreet abortionist. Do Maria Miller, Jeremy Hunt and now Theresa May want a return to this extremely dangerous practice?

This won’t be a popular post. It seems you don’t want to read about abortion from the figures on my ‘Killer’ Miller piece.

But I don’t write this blog because I want to be popular; I say some things because they are to be said, and this is one of those pieces. Cutting the time limit on abortions will continue to be ignorant lunacy, no matter how many Cabinet ministers support it.

From that, you can guess my opinion of the Cabinet ministers involved, who are Maria Miller, Jeremy Hunt, and now Theresa May.

The Home Secretary said she thought there was scope for a 20-week limit (the current limit is 24 weeks, remember). The Health Secretary had already gone further, saying he supported halving the limit to just 12 weeks.

This is a man who admits that doctors have operated on his head. Presumably they removed all his intelligence.

Thank goodness they were only expressing personal views, no matter what may be said by those who support the suggestion – oh, what am I saying? The Conservatives are desperate for a popular policy. They’re probably writing it into their Conference speeches right now.

I am glad to see that my own concerns about this were absolutely correct. In a comment on Today, Professor Wendy Savage, a gynaecologist and campaigner on women’s rights, pointed out: “The number of abortions that take place over 20 weeks is very small. Of those a considerable proportion are of foetuses which have got a congenital abnormality.

“I think the majority of the population think that if somebody has got a foetus that, if born, will have a severe disability, they should have the right to choose whether or not to continue with that pregnancy.”

If you’re still undecided on the issue (all 12 or 13 of you who are reading this), try reading Laurie Pennie’s ’24 Reasons for 24 Weeks’, a blog she wrote back in 2008, before the Tory MP Nadine Dorries (remember her?) was defeated in her own attempt to cut the time limit.

Of particular interest should be number 3: “Research shows that lowering the time limit does nothing to lower the number of abortions taking place.” But if they can’t get a legal abortion, where do they go?

Back to the backstreets, everyone?

‘Killer’ Miller’s new job – removing women’s rights

Maria Miller: This minister for equality understands the needs of women even less than she understood the disabled.

Maria Miller, the newly-appointed minister responsible for persecuting minority groups, has started by attacking pregnant women.

She wants to lower the legal abortion limit in England, Wales and Scotland, from 24 weeks to 20.

This should come as no surprise to anyone. She voted for a 20-week limit in 2008, as I mentioned in a previous article on this blog.

Ms Miller has justified her stance by saying care for extremely premature babies has improved rapidly, saying it was “really important” to consider the impact on women and children, and claiming it is “common sense“.

But the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists reviewed the matter two years ago and said there was no scientific evidence to justify a lower limit. Survival rates before 24 weeks have not improved. Also, there are circumstances in which some women will need to end a pregnancy after 20 weeks.

In other words, based on the scientific evidence, Ms Miller’s approach is the exact opposite of “common sense“.

One has to wonder, what is this minister’s problem? She must know that there are reasons for terminating pregnancies that are based on the health of the mother, the child, or both. And that doesn’t even take into account the effect on the lives of those individuals after the child is born.

Correct me if I’m wrong; I’m looking at this as a health issue because it occurs to me that, except in rare cases, a woman would be aware she is pregnant after 20 weeks and would want the child. I don’t think we’re discussing the “pro-life/pro-choice” issue here. It seems to me that we’re discussing whether children will be born with congenital conditions that will impair their experience of life, or whether the pregnancy will seriously harm the mother’s health.

In either case, being forced to go to full-term, because the law demands it, could lead to a life on benefits as what Ms Miller might call a burden to society – or so it seems to me.

So this “common sense” approach is entirely contradictory, considering the minister’s history.

Hasn’t ‘Killer’ spent the last two years taking benefits away from people like that, effectively killing them off? Why is she now trying to bring more of them into the world?

In short: Does she get a kick out of causing suffering?