The risk of “Brexit” for WAHMs
We’re less than two weeks away from casting our votes in the EU Referendum and whilst many people have already made their minds up, there are still plenty who are undecided. If you are a WAHM, self-employed parent or run your own business then it’s important to know where you stand should Britain leave the EU and what the EU offers goes beyond larger market access.
Parental and Maternity Rights
Before even looking at the business aspect of things it is impossible to consider the impact of leaving the EU without looking at its role in providing legislation for both pregnant women (including maternity rights whilst in work, rights to leave and health and safety considerations) and parental leave.
Under EU legislation pregnant workers have the right to attend ante-natal appointments during working hours on full pay and they are entitled to at least 14 weeks’ maternity leave before or after childbirth. Employers are not legally allowed to dismiss women who are pregnant or on maternity leave unless there are exceptional circumstances nothing to do with the women’s pregnancy. Whilst this is more geared towards people in employment with a company, many work at home mums do work part-time or work from home as an employee of a company so this vital legislation cannot be ignored. Equally, it is the EU that provides both mothers and fathers with the right to take at least 18 weeks’ parental leave for each of their children, up until they are 18. Protection against dismissal is provided alongside the right to leave.
The head of the TUC has asserted that workers’ rights to paid holiday and maternity leave are genuinely at risk should we vote to leave the EU. She is not alone in her belief as many against Brexit have argued the protection of workers’ rights is at risk should a Brexit happen.
Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP and one of the biggest proponents of a “Brexit”, has made his feelings on women’s rights to paid maternity leave clear in the past:
The European Parliament, in their foolishness, have voted for increased maternity pay. I'm off for a drink. #UKIP
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) October 20, 2010
Brexit and the Implications for Self-Employed Parents
Research has found that over 50% of self-employed workers believe Britain should remain in the EU. As members of the EU, self-employed mums and dads in the UK have the legal right to work in any EU member state without significant boundaries confusing or complicating the working process.
Self-employed and work at home mums contribute approximately £7.4bn to the UK economy each year and whilst the Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney is describing Brexit as “the biggest domestic risk of financial stability” it is fair to believe it may have an impact on the amount UK WAHMs are able to make and therefore contribute too. Any risk to the economy is a risk to business and with the current contribution of self-employed women being extremely positive a change to market conditions could result in the opposite. Putting the UK in a position which means the economy is less cash rich will have an impact on supply and demand and this includes demand for goods and services offered by WAHMs.
It would be wrong to suggest that only the opinion of Mark Carney counts but several economic powerhouses, including Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund have made it clear that the immediate impact of Brexit will be negative, with the potential to cause a stock market crash. When you are a self-employed parent every penny often counts and an economic climate which makes it harder to find work or build business could be extremely damaging.
This morning we learn that the value of the pound has fallen again over growing uncertainty about Brexit:
Sterling has fallen against the dollar and yen on growing uncertainty over the outcome of the UK’s EU referendum.
The “volatility index” – a measure of investors’ uncertainty – has hit levels last seen in the 2008 financial crisis.
Brexit and the Implications for Children
Despite the endless debate and discussion on Brexit, very little seems to have been said about how it will impact on children. Exiting the EU has the genuine potential to disadvantage children in the UK, but this is an issue which seems to be largely ignored as the obsession with immigration continues.
The House of Lords blocked the right for 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the Referendum in December 2015, despite the fact that whatever decision is made, it will significantly affect their future.
The EU has almost always been forward thinking in the area of children’s rights. Almost every area of EU law includes an element which has at least an indirect consequence for children. A hugely protective range of economic, legal and procedural provisions will be lost for the UK’s children should we leave the EU and this covers everything from policy guidance on issues such as poverty and obesity, to the EU’s directive on combating sexual abuse and the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography.
The UK could theoretically produce policies of similar significance, offering the same protection to British children but can it happen instantly? For a short time at the very least, children will lose a degree of protection. It also seems highly unlikely that the UK will be able to provide legislation which equals the quality and has the same expert input as the EU’s, with resources nowhere near as vast available to the UK as a single nation.
Remain in the EU for Workers’ and Children’s Rights
Whilst there are many romantics out there claiming Great Britain can only be Great if it is a single nation and we need to ‘look after ourselves’ to truly succeed as a global power, from the perspective of a parent and someone who is self-employed, it doesn’t seem at all viable. The European Union isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t make sense to leave a globally recognised and respected organisation to go it alone. This is especially so when you consider the speed at which other, larger nations are growing, mobilising and looking to communicate and cooperate with groups of the same influence and size.