UKs self-employed should receive maternity pay deals

Julie Deane, who founded her company from a kitchen table in 2008 and who now has annual sales of more than £10 million, said that the army of self-employed workers must be helped through changes including an overhaul of maternity pay.

She has produced ten recommendations after being commissioned by David Cameron last year to review the state’s approach to self-employment.

Adam Marshall, the executive director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said that it was “time to sweep away the barriers that stop people from working for themselves. Her calls for the education system to focus more on the basics of enterprise, and for the self-employed to receive parental leave pay on the same basis as company workers, resonate with what we hear in business communities across the country,” he said.

Ms Deane called for an improved maternity allowance to bring the rules into line with how employees are treated. Salaried workers are paid a higher portion of their salary for the first six weeks of statutory maternity pay, before the percentage drops. Self-employed workers are paid only the lower rate throughout their 39-week allowance.

“This is not anything that will bankrupt the Treasury,” she said.

Ms Deane’s other recommendations included better teaching about self-employment in schools and how to manage personal finance.

Between 2009 and 2014, self-employment rose by almost 140,000 a year, compared with a long-term average of 40,000 a year before the financial crisis. It stands at 4.6 million people, an all-time high, but overall income from self-employment has fallen by 22 per cent since 2008.

Ms Deane said that most of the self-employed had no plans to return to employment, having “found a good balance with work-life commitments”.

Mr Cameron said that Ms Deane’s proposals would be “carefully considered” by the government.