02 October 2015

Maternity pay

When my colleague Dr Fabian Wadel was a graduate student in economics at Oxford, he once expressed to another such student (male) possible reservations about the idea of maternity leave. The other student found this so unacceptable that he stormed off. Fabian says his reaction was not atypical.

In his conversation with the fellow graduate student, Fabian did not express the most serious objection to maternity leave, which is that it deprives employers of the freedom to employ whom they wish. They will tend to employ fewer women if they know that a potential liability such as maternity leave is attached to them. Since the state does not wish fewer women to be employed, but more, the result is that quotas then have to be introduced with which employers have to comply.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn recently said that self-employed women should have access to maternity pay. Presumably this is because it is considered ‘unfair’ that they should miss out on an advantage provided to women who are employed. If one regards maternity leave as allowing women to have children without risking dismissal, the idea of applying it where a woman employs herself may seem illogical. But perhaps it should really be regarded as a form of unemployment benefit.

Jeremy Corbyn is proposing that, in the case of self-employed women, it should be the state (as opposed to the employer) which funds maternity pay. Intervention is a violation of the freedom to contract as one chooses. However, it is not clear which is the worse violation: forcing an individual employer to pay for an arrangement he would not otherwise have chosen, or forcing all taxpayers to contribute an additional amount towards funding such an arrangement.

I appeal for financial and moral support in improving my position.
I need people to provide moral support both for fund-raising, and as temporary or possibly long-term workers. Those interested should read my post on interns.