Philip asks for changes to be made to the Save As You Earn scheme to accommodate the needs of women on maternity leave

Out-of-date rules which mean work place saving schemes can only be paused for six months must be changed to allow women who go on maternity leave the same benefits as others, an MP has said.

Shipley MP Philip Davies wants Government to make the change to the Save As You Earn (SAYE) scheme in next month’s Budget to stop women having to cash in the schemes early.

In Treasury Questions Mr Davies said: “Given that more people are in employment there is more opportunity for people to take advantage of employee ownership share schemes.  Unfortunately the maximum amount of time you can pause one of those schemes is six months, which mean many women who go on maternity leave for up to a year have to cash in their schemes and cannot take advantage of them to maximum effect.

“I am sure this is an out of date anomaly so in the Budget will the Chancellor extend the period of time that an employee shared ownership scheme can be paused for up to 12 months so women on maternity leave can enjoy the same benefits as everybody else.”

SAYE is a monthly saving scheme which gives people a tax free bonus and the option to buy shares in the company at the end of the scheme. But at present an employee can only suspend payments for a maximum of six months, meaning any women who wants to take longer than six month off on maternity leave is forced to stop the scheme.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said: “This is an interesting but very technical point which has been raised to me by others including the TUC and I will take what he has said today as a Budget representation and I will look at it carefully.”

Mr Davies added: “I have met with representatives of the Employee Share Ownership company ProShare to discuss this. We need to change this to accommodate the needs of women on maternity leave. It is about providing a level playing field and not penalising people who chose to start a family and spend time with their newborn. It has not been changed since the 1980s.”