Press Releases and Research

Rebeecca Addlington and Kate Lawler join Pregnant Then Screwed in a reworked Britney hit to drive home the need to support

Press Release 3rd November 2020: Rebeecca Addlington and Kate Lawler join Pregnant Then Screwed in a reworked Britney hit to drive home the need to support

Pregnant Then Screwed has been granted permission for judicial review against the Chancellor of the Exchequer for discriminating against women in the implementation of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

Pregnant Then Screwed are being represented by legal firm Leigh Day, in a case which has brought to life that SEISS discriminates against self-employed women who have taken maternity between 2016 and 2019. This is not taken into account when calculating mothers entitlement under SEISS, and these women therefore have a lower average income.

Pregnant Then Screwed started legal proceedings after the Chancellor was asked why he had not exempted periods of maternity leave from the Self employed grant calculations. His response was that: ‘’for all sorts of reasons people have ups and down and variations in their earnings, whether through maternity, ill health or others.’’ Pregnant Then Screwed then wrote a pre action protocol letter to the Chancellor and the response from their legal team correlated maternity leave to a sabbatical. Pregnant Then Screwed felt they had no choice but to start legal proceedings.

Joeli Brearley, CEO and Founder of Pregnant Then Screwed explains, ”We are very pleased the judge has now stated that our claim against the Government for Indirect sex discrimination has merit. Maternity leave is not the same as sick leave or taking a sabbatical, it is work that has a value to the whole of society, ensuring the next generation survive and thrive. By ignoring this unpaid labour, mainly done by women, the Government has yet again shown its contempt for those who do this critical care work, whilst simultaneously forcing many vulnerable new families into poverty.’

She continues, ‘The Government has a legal obligation to ensure none of their schemes have a disproportionate impact on anyone with a protected characteristic – the fact that women on maternity leave were clearly ignored when this scheme was designed, and continue to be ignored even when this issue was repeatedly raised in Westminster, is deeply worrying. We hope the judge will rule in our favour and these vulnerable new mothers will be given the money they are entitled to.’’

Leigh Day solicitor Anna Dews said: “Our clients argue that the Defendant’s application of the self-employed income support scheme is unlawful because it disproportionately affects women who have not worked for reasons relating to maternity. The purpose of the SEISS, to provide financial support to self-employed workers during the ongoing pandemic, remains of utmost importance to our clients, their families and many others like them”

It is estimated that 75,000 self-employed women who had time off to have a baby between April 2016 and April 2019 are being short-changed compared to other applicants because of the way the grant is calculated. The judicial review will be listed in the coming days.

The case is being supported by: Community Union, The Writers Guild, National Union of Journalists, BECTU, Sweet Cecily’s natural skincare, Musicians Union and Equity.

“This development will allow the experiences of self-employed women throughout this crisis to be heard. We hope the court agrees with us that the self-employed income support scheme is indirect discrimination so that the unfair treatment can be remedied.”
Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community

We are proud to support Pregnant Then Screwed in their current legal action against the government and stand shoulder to shoulder with working parents seeking justice. For us it is simple, having children is the most natural thing in the world and it should not preclude women from also having successful and fulfilling careers. We encourage government to recognise this and encourage companies to look after their employees, as ultimately it is the employees who will look after their business.” – Hugo Fearnley, Business Development Director, Sweet Cecily’s.

“Most of our members are self-employed and many are being penalised for taking time off to recover from giving birth and care for their baby. The current SEISS scheme discriminates against self-employed women, simply for starting a family. The MU fully supports this legal case in the hope that self-employed mothers will be treated equally and fairly” – Naomi Pohl, MU Deputy General Secretary

WGGB statement

WGGB supports Pregnant Then Screwed because we believe the SEISS unfairly discriminates against pregnant women by exempting periods of maternity leave. This judicial review is important and we hope will result in justice for all those women who have been falling through the gaps of Government Covid-19 support.


For further press information or case studies from Pregnant Then Screwed please contact: [email protected]

Notes to Editor:


Pregnant Then Screwed is a grassroots campaigning group ran by women with lived experience of pregnancy and maternity discrimination. We want to see an end to the motherhood penalty.

Our free advice line for mothers can be contacted on: 01612229879

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