A Labour MP is preparing to take legal action after being told she could not have access to full maternity cover by hiring a locum.
Stella Creasy is seven months pregnant and has been admitted to hospital after being diagnosed with gestational diabetes
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), which regulates MPs’ pay and expenses, told Ms Creasy that the core parts of her job could not be done by anyone else.
Labour MP Stella Creasy (pictured with her first child) is preparing to take legal action after her request for maternity cover through the hiring of a locum was turned down by Ipsa
According to the Times, Ian Todd, chief executive of Ipsa, said in a letter this month: ‘The concept of a locum is, therefore, misconceived in relation to an MP.
‘Furthermore, Ipsa providing a budget for a like-for-like locum MP would go beyond what the House of Commons has agreed pursuant to its parental leave arrangements.’
Instead, the newspaper says Ms Creasy, 44, was offered £35,000 to hire a new junior staff member or promote an existing member of her team.
In February this year, Creasy told the government that she would be prepared to sue over legislation that potentially excluded backbench MPs from being allowed to take maternity leave.
Ms Creasy believes the disparity between the maternity leave afforded to cabinet ministers and backbench MPs is ‘unlawful’ and has sent a pre-action letter after receiving the decision
She told the House that proposals made by the government treated maternity leave like a perk such as ‘having a company car’ rather than a human right.
The Government changed legislation that month to ensure cabinet members received six months maternity leave to allow the attorney general, Suella Braverman, to keep her post after having a baby.
But backbench MPs have not been afforded access to the same arrangement.
In response to Ipsa’s latest letter, Ms Creasy has now sent her own pre-action letter.
In 2019, the Labour MP for Walthamstow took part in a pilot programme which meant when she was pregnant with her first child, she was replaced by a locum who covered the role while she was on leave.
The post came with £50,000 pro rata salary and covered a period of seven months absence.
They were able to meet ministers and handle casework, but could not vote or speak in the Commons.
Ms Creasy said Ipsa have never justified the discontinuation of this pilot project.
The 44-year-old, who’s thought to be expecting her second child in the next few weeks, made headlines in 2019 after she appeared in the House of Commons with her two-week-old baby daughter strapped to her chest in a baby sling.
The MP had to swear in inside Parliament to access her maternity leave and to ensure her Walthamstow constituents still got her vote by proxy.
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