Coldplay's Chris Martin Backs End to Discrimination Against Self-Employed Parents Across U.K. Music Industry

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Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live at San Siro Stadium in Milano, Italy on July 2, 2017. 

LONDON — Coldplay singer Chris Martin is backing a campaign to end discrimination against self-employed parents working in the British music industry. 

At present, self-employed parents are not entitled to shared parental leave, unlike other full or part-time employees in the U.K.    

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) was introduced by the British government in 2015 and allows parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) -- set at £139.58 ($171.59) a week or 90% of an employee's average weekly earnings, whichever is lower -- following the birth or adoption of their child.  

However, the policy only applies to parents in continuous employment, not self-employed workers, leaving many people in the music business ineligible. According to umbrella trade organization UK Music, around three out of every four people working in the music, performing and creative industries are self-employed.

Martin said the current situation "makes it really tough for many of our freelance colleagues and crew when they have children."

The Coldplay frontman said he was backing calls for a change in the law "so that self-employed mums and dads can choose when to take parental leave."

Umbrella organization UK Music, which has long campaigned for a fairer deal for self-employed parents, says a change in the rules would allow parents greater flexibility over childcare decisions, help close the gender pay gap, enable mothers to maintain successful careers and give fathers the chance to care for their children.

"Self-employed parents working in music and across the creative industries are getting a raw deal. Changes are badly overdue," said UK Music CEO Michael Dugher.

He called for all political parties to "embrace this call for equality" and further grow a British music industry, which contributes £4.5 billion ($5.5 billion) to the U.K. economy.

"The present antiquated system means we are losing far too much talent because women continue to be penalised under the current unjust rules that force them into being the main care-giver," added Music Producers Guild executive director and founder of campaigning group Parental Pay Equality, Olga Fitzroy.

"Women are woefully under-represented in music production and other freelance industries. That problem and the continuing issue of the gender pay gap will only be properly addressed if the Government gives self-employed parents the chance to balance care-giving for their children with their careers," Fitzroy said.

Those views were echoed by Ayse Hassan, bassist in London rock band Savages. "As a bass player in an all-female band I don’t want to be penalised if I have children or be told by the government that it's my job to stay at home and look after the baby," stated Hassan. She said it was time "for the government to change the rules so self-employed people can chose how to balance childcare and work."


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