January 2021 update from Maternity Action

The Maternity Acton website can be found here

“We kick off our campaigning this year by renewing our calls for urgent action in the face of the pandemic’s devastating impact on pregnant women and new mothers. It has taken nine months but the Government has finally released guidance on managing pregnant women at work. We called for this as early as April 2020, when it became clear that many employers were getting this horribly wrong and the Minister repeatedly told us and MPs that this was not necessary. Having released the guidance last December, we are now demanding that the Government promote it.

We are working with the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to protect pregnant women from unsafe working conditions. We are calling for the Government to adapt the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to enable employers to reclaim 100% of the cost of a maternity suspension of a woman who is 28 weeks pregnant or beyond. This would remove the financial barrier to employers suspending pregnant women on full pay, when working conditions put them at risk. Charlotte Nichols, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, raised our call in Parliament on January 11th.

The pandemic’s toll on migrant and BAME women is another critical area of concern for Maternity Action. Pregnant and Destitute in the Pandemic: London is the next in our series of regional webinars on migrant and asylum seeking mothers in the Hostile Environment. Join us on 27th January, between 10 am to 11.30 am, for presentations outlining the particular difficulties pregnant women and new mothers face in accessing financial support, housing and NHS maternity care during the pandemic. This free online webinar is targeted at midwives, advisers, peer support workers, volunteers and others working with vulnerable migrant women in London.

We have a wealth of online resources on maternity and employment rights constantly updated and vetted by our in-house team of lawyers and advisers. Look out for regular updates to our Covid Maternity FAQs, including relevant government guidelines on pregnancy and Covid. Kindly share our links to keep everyone informed of their rights and options as we navigate the turbulent waters of Covid and Brexit.

Our advice and training services

Our Maternity Rights Advice Line re-opened on January 4th to lots of calls from mothers worried about school closures, health and safety at work and impending redundancies. Our specialist advisers give tailored advice to each caller. Please persist if you cannot get through in the first instance, we are doing the best we can with the limited resources we have.

The opening days for our Maternity Care Access Advice Service have changed from last year. We are now open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 10 am to 12 noon. If you have been charged for maternity care, or are assisting someone who has, this is the advice service to call. We also have an online form to request advice.

Our advisers have been delivering free webinars on various aspects of maternity and employment rights and benefits and the pandemic since last year, many of which are fully booked within days. Subscribe to our e-bulletin and follow us on Twitter and Facebook @MaternityAction and on Eventbrite to receive notifications for upcoming events.”