Changes to contracts means that maternity and long-term sickness cover will become standard for professional female footballers in England for the first time.
WSL contracts did not previously have maternity cover written in as standard and it was left to the discretion of individual clubs but after FIFA announced new regulations for female professionals the FA and PFA have announced the change.
Professional Footballers Association director of women's football, Marie-Christine Bouchier said “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.”
The likes of FIFPRO and Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott have said that the move is a “great step forward” for the women’s game. However, Watford and Wales striker Helen Ward said FIFA’s regulation of a minimum of 14 weeks maternity pay would “disappear pretty quickly” as pregnant mothers may stop playing once three months pregnant and added there are “many more steps to be taken on this journey.” After 14 weeks players will then be paid two-thirds of their salaries for a further 8 weeks.