Pregnant then Screwed have launched a legal claim for Judicial Review against the Treasury for indirectly discriminating against women due to their refusal to exempt periods of maternity leave from the Self-Employment Support Scheme (SEISS).
The scheme, launched in April 2020, provides payment for 80% of average earnings over three years capped at £7,500. However, self-employed women who took maternity leave between the tax years 2016/2017 and 2018/2019 receive a much lower SEISS payment and women who took maternity leave in the tax years 2018/19 or 2019/20 are not eligible at all under the scheme.
The number of women calculated to be impacted by this is almost 70,000. Moreover, the Government likened maternity leave to sick leave or going on holiday. We’re not quite sure what holidays look like for politicians but to compare the sacrifice that women make, in taking time out of their careers to raise the next generation, to a holiday is both reductive, offensive and sets a dangerous precedent for women’s rights.
The legal grounds for legal claim are as follows: violation of Article 14 (Protection from Discrimination) read in conjunction with Article 1 of Protocol 1 (Protection of Property) of the European Convention of Human Rights; breach of s19 Equality Act 2010 (indirectly discriminating against women who have taken maternity leave) and violation of the Public Sector Equality Duty under s149 Equality Act 2010 for failure to have “due regard” to the impact the SEISS scheme has on women.
This imperative legal challenge is supported by law firms Leigh Day and Doughty Street Chambers.