Sad news today as one of the well known faces in Scotland, Joanna Cherry MP let us know that she is going to be taking some time out of her job for health reasons.
She confirmed that her constituency office will still deal with all enquiries about her work as MP. She will be returning to her role as Edinburgh South West MP as soon as she is fit and well again.
We wish her well and hope she’s shaking up the Commons again soon!
For those that ask what happens when an MP is too sick to work, well this is a little different to many other jobs. Technically MPs are not entitled to holiday pay, sick pay, maternity pay or any of those other salary usual helping hands. This is because they are an ‘office holder’ rather than being employed or being self-employed.
All MPs pledge their allegiance to the Queen and they get their salary whether they turn up in the Commons daily or never appear at all. The Sinn Fein MPs who never turn up in the Commons, also refuse to pledge their allegiance to the Crown and so do not get the salary other MPs do, however they do receive expenses for their day to day work.
This means if an MP is sick, they still get paid whether they do a little work from home or absolutely nothing.
Parliament has recess usually around the same time as school holidays, this means time off around February, Easter, Summer, September (this is conference so most do work) and November as well as a Christmas break and bank holidays. In many of these recess breaks MPs do work in their constituency, often much to the dismay of staff who suddenly have a micromanager in their midst telling them how to do the tasks they do every day without the MP being present.
While some think with so many Bills awaiting their way through the House recesses should be cancelled, they tend to only be cancelled in extreme circumstances, like we saw in the Brexit votes.
Though while it sounds like a cushy number, do remember most MPs do work long hours, often work weekends, rarely get to spend time with friends or family without politics being raised and have their job (and the worry of their staff member’s jobs) at risk every time there is an election. Everything MPs do falls under scrutiny be it local casework, speaking in the House or media or sometimes even going about their day to day lives – many MPs cannot even sit in their local café without being approached with a query. If they lose the election, that’s it, pack up and go, there is a small carry-over and an ok pension (let’s hope they were elected longer than one term) and as you are aware the majority of former MPs are never heard from ever again, some signing onto Jobseeker’s Allowance and moving back into ordinary jobs, others pursuing lobbying careers and the lucky ones making it to the Lords or a Cabinet post.
It’s an interesting and unusual job, with perks and quirks like no other – but no standard sick pay….Keep that in mind next time you’re lobbying for an increase on the £95 SSP rate.
You can learn more about MPs and Parliament in our Members area