PFA warns about ‘piecemeal’ WSL deal approach

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The Professional Footballers’ Association has said that they will continue to push for “absolute parity” for female players and that a “piecemeal adoption” of new changes announced on Tuesday will only further hurt the women’s game.

Details of a landmark agreement between the English Football Association and the PFA that will see players in the Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship receive enhancements to their contractual rights with regards to maternity leave, injury and illness and termination of contracts for long-term injury were announced on Tuesday.

The new agreement will come into effect from the 2022-23 season and applies to new contracts signed from then on.

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“It is vital that the new changes are adopted by all, as opposed to being implemented on a piecemeal basis, as each player enters into a new contract,” the PFA’s director of women’s football Marie-Christine Bouchier said in a statement.

“We can’t have a situation where players are expected to continue working under what is now agreed as a deficient employment contract. It’s not an acceptable option to create a two-tier employment system in terms of current players based simply on when they happened to sign their last contract.”

Under the new maternity policy, a player going on maternity leave will be paid 100% of her weekly wage, as well as any other renumeration and benefits for the first 14 weeks. Previously, a player would only be entitled to the minimum statutory rate if they had been employed by their club for 26 weeks.

Players will also have better long-term sickness pay. Previously, they would receive six months but now they will receive their basic wage for the first 18 months and then one half of their wage for the length of the injury thereafter.

Finally, if a contract is terminated as a result of injury, the notice period has increased from three months to 12 months.

The PFA added that it is working towards increasing parity in other areas such as contractual options.

“It is common in professional football for contracts to include an ‘option’ on a player, allowing a club to extend the deal if they want to retain the player for a longer period,” Bouchier said.

“However, the current notification period outlined in the standard WSL contract could leave some players in limbo when their deal ends. Players can find themselves in a situation where their contract has expired, but the club can wait a further week to decide whether they activate the option or release the player. In the men’s game, in the same situation, players get advance notice from their club, which then allows them to make plans for their future.

“We are confident this will be remedied imminently, but again, it’s just a basic issue of fairness.”

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