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Legal Action Against the Chancellor for Indirect Sex Discrimination Supported by MU

Pregnancy rights charity, Pregnant then Screwed, with support from Doughty Street Chambers and law firm Leigh Day, is threatening legal proceedings against the Chancellor for discriminating against women in the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

Published: 12 June 2020 | 12:00 AM Updated: 21 July 2021 | 4:45 PM
a mother holding her daughter on her shoulders
The number of women affected is significant, currently calculated at 69,200. Photo: Shutterstock

SEISS was introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in April 2020, to support self-employed workers whose trade has been adversely affected by Covid-19.

The scheme provides a payment of 80% of average earnings over 3 years, capped at £7,500. On 29 May the Chancellor accounted that the scheme would be extended until the end of August offering 70% of average earnings, capped at £6,570.

The eligibility conditions and calculation method chosen by the Chancellor have a discriminatory effect on women as they do not exempt periods of maternity leave. The number of women affected is significant, currently calculated at 69,200.

Pregnant Then Screwed are asking the Chancellor to take immediate steps to change the SEISS so that time taken for maternity leave is discounted when average earnings are calculated. 

Freelance musicians are already penalised for starting families

Our General Secretary Horace Trubridge added the MU’s support, explaining:

“The MU fully supports the Pregnant Then Screwed legal challenge.

“Freelance musicians taking maternity or parental leave are already penalised for starting families under the current system. Disadvantaging them further, during a global pandemic, remains unacceptable.

“So many of our members are facing severe financial hardship following the loss of work in the live, teaching, orchestral and recording sectors. Whilst we appreciate the assistance being provided by the Government, numerous freelance musicians are falling between the cracks in the support system and are struggling to cope.

“Our members who have taken maternity leave to care for their families are particularly vulnerable and we call on the Government to rectify this situation immediately.”

No musician should be left behind

According to our research, more than a third of musicians are likely to slip between the cracks of the Government’s support schemes.

Ask the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to ensure no musician is left behind.

You can use our template letter if you're not sure what to say. Remember to include how you are affected too. Personal stories make all the difference.

Write to Rishi now, see our advice on how.

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