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Paloma Faith’s important message to employers about maternity leave

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Kayleigh Dray
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Paloma Faith has three double-platinum albums to her name already. However, her latest record, The Architect, feels very different to those that came before – in part due to the fact that the singer has released it in order to share her feelings on feminism, socialism, “humanity and compassion”. 

Speaking to iNews, Faith has explained that every single track on her new concept album tells an important story. Guilty, for example, is written “from the perspective of someone who voted Leave in the referendum and regretted it”. 

She goes on to reveal that Warrior is about the refugee crisis, Kings and Queens tells the true story of a teenage boy who was targeted by police because of his race, and Still Around speaks to female victims of domestic abuse, pleading with them to leave their toxic relationships.

The album as a whole, however, aims to tackle another important issue: maternity leave, and the misconceptions that surround it.

Speaking to the express.co.uk at the 2017 Music Industry Trust Awards, Faith – who recently revealed that she and her partner are raising their child as gender-neutral – said  her new music is, essentially, “a message I wanted to give employers.”

“Women aren’t less committed to work after a baby,” she said.

It is worth noting that, while there have been some seemingly positive moves by employers to make becoming a parent easier, the broader picture is incredibly unsettling. A survey of more than 3,200 women by Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, when scaled up, suggests that 54,000 new mothers may be forced out of their jobs each year. 

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It is a form of discrimination that manifests itself in a multitude of ways: 10% of women revealed that they were discouraged from attending antenatal appointments, 7% said they were put under pressure to hand in their notice, and, when mothers were allowed to work flexibly, around 50% reported negative consequences, such as receiving fewer opportunities.

And Faith is not the only celebrity to speak out against it: Keira Knightley, speaking in 2016, also flagged the ‘archaic’ idea that men and women aren’t legally offered the same amount of parental leave, along with the huge burden of childcare costs.

“I think paternity leave should be the same as maternity leave. It’s shocking. Because you need that option,” she said.

Keira Knightley has also spoken out on maternity leave discrimination

Knightley continued: “One of the things that is [also] so shocking in this country is that childcare is unbelievably expensive.

“It should be, it’s an amazing thing if you’re good at it. It’s incredibly difficult, it should be well paid. But there is no option for a woman to go back to work unless she’s being paid really, really well and can afford full-time care before [her child can] get into nursery.

“I think I’ve become unbelievably aware of that and how lucky I’ve been to be able to afford really good childcare, because otherwise it would be at least four years out of my career.

“I wouldn’t be able to get back to where I’d been if I’d taken four years out. I think that’s the same for most women. And I think that’s really hard.”

To find out more about your maternity rights and for further advice contact Maternity Action; maternityaction.org.uk; 0845 600 85 33; Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS); acas. org.uk; 0300 123 1100; Citizens Advice Bureau; citizensadvice.org.uk; 03444 111 444

Images: Rex Features

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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