The Rugby Soccer Union (RFU) introduced a brand new maternity go away coverage on Thursday, entitling contracted England girls’s gamers to 26 weeks of totally paid go away and funds for youngsters beneath a 12 months previous to journey with them to video games.
The coverage, which the RFU described as “floor breaking”, additionally affords pregnant gamers the chance to maneuver into different employment inside rugby till they go on maternity go away.
“I’m assured that the coverage will assist normalise motherhood in sport and provides gamers the absolute best likelihood of returning to play… in a safe and secure method,” mentioned England lock Abbie Ward, who introduced her being pregnant final month.
The difficulty of maternity go away for skilled athletes has regularly come into sharper focus lately.
Tennis star Serena Williams was denied a seeding on the 2018 French Open when she returned to competitors after the start of her daughter, resulting in widespread criticism of the event organisers.
By the top of the 12 months, the Ladies’s Tennis Affiliation had modified its guidelines on maternity go away to supply gamers coming back from being pregnant not only a protected rating, but additionally a protected seeding.
In 2019, sportswear big Nike launched a brand new maternity coverage for all its sponsored athletes, guaranteeing pay and bonuses for 18 months round being pregnant.
The modifications at Nike had been sparked by criticism from six-time Olympic gold medallist Allyson Felix, who made headlines when she revealed her longtime sponsor wished to pay her 70% much less after she had her first little one.
World soccer governing physique FIFA launched 14 weeks of maternity go away in 2020, the identical 12 months that the Ladies’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation introduced totally paid maternity go away as a part of its collective bargaining settlement for the primary time.
The RFU added that if contracts had been renegotiated or prolonged throughout the participant’s being pregnant or maternity go away, the participant must be included in discussions and have their contract prolonged for at the very least 12 months.
Rugby Gamers’ Affiliation common secretary Christian Day described the brand new coverage as a “vital step ahead” for the ladies’s sport in England.
“This new coverage ensures that our girls’s gamers might be higher supported by way of parenthood when representing England,” Day mentioned.