Thursday, January 16, 2003

Mothers in Britain receive third lowest maternity pay in EU

By Matthew Beard

16 January 2003, The Independent

"Maternity pay in Britain is the third lowest in the European Union, a global study into state provision for new mothers reveals today....
The issue of state support for mothers is part of a drive to achieve a work-family balance being promoted by ministers. But sceptics claim the Government's family-friendly agenda is to highlight the working tax credit, child tax credit and better leave for parents planned for the Budget in April, eclipsing tax rises for the childless.

Karen Gadsden, 30 - 'I pleaded for an extra two weeks off'

In theory, Karen Gadsden, 30, had up to a year after the birth of her daughter, Cerys, to go back to her job as arts teacher at a west London school.

But she was forced by the family finances and cost of child care to drastically reduce the breastfeeding and go back to work. Her paid leave ran out after 18 weeks and, just as she was due to start at a school in Acton, her five-month-old daughter stopped eating. "I pleaded with the headmistress to give me another two weeks off [unpaid] and she agreed, probably because she has children of her own," said Ms Gadsden. "I eventually returned two days before the end of the summer term and was entitled to payment for the school holidays, which was lucky."

She returned part-time in September, dashing to the staff toilets between lessons to siphon off breast milk for use later. "I think it is hypocritical of the Government to promote the virtues of breast milk when the system doesn't make it realistic."

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