The Football Association and Professional Footballers’ Association have agreed a change to contracts that will see players in the English women’s game guaranteed maternity and long-term sickness cover.
The recently-reached agreement will mean cover for players at the 24 clubs across the Women’s Super League and Championship.
Maternity cover has been something previously at the discretion of clubs.
The PFA’s director of women’s football Marie-Christine Bouchier said in a statement: “Over the last 16 months, the PFA has been working with the FA to address the significant disparities between the contractual rights and obligations of male and female players in English club football.
“We are pleased to confirm that, following these negotiations, the FA Board has recently agreed to support three significant policy changes relating to maternity provision, injury and illness and termination of long-term injury.
“The PFA’s aim has been consistent throughout these talks – to ensure contractual parity for our female members compared to the men’s game. There is much still to be achieved, but these policy changes represent important milestones in what are ongoing discussions.”
During a Parliamentary debate on women’s football on Wednesday Julie Elliott, the MP for Sunderland Central, said the change being implemented would be “a massive step forward”.
Elliott said: “The issue of maternity rights for players impacts on their lives hugely.
“In research conducted by Dr Alex Culvin last year, players were quoted as saying they ‘need longer contracts so we feel more secure. I shouldn’t have to think I need to sign a four-year contract because I want to have a baby, so I know they’ll pay me’.
“However, I understand that a new player contract has been agreed between the FA and the Professional Footballers’ Association that includes maternity cover and long-term sickness cover.
I am delighted that the FA and PFA have agreed a player contract for the top two tiers that enables maternity and long sickness cover, and it is welcome that the Minister has announced that he is minded to add the Womens World Cup and Euros to listed events.
— Julie Elliott (@JulieElliottMP) January 26, 2022
“I understand that this is a standardised contract that would cover players playing in both the Women’s Super League and the Championship.
“If that is accurate and is to be implemented, it will be a massive step forward for the status of women footballers and, more importantly, for the terms and conditions and employment rights that they experience.
“I pay tribute to all those who have worked so hard in the game to get to this point.”