The Rugby Football Union (RFU) and the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) have introduced an enhanced maternity, pregnant parent and adoption leave policy for contracted England Women’s rugby players.
The initiative will ensure that the safety of the player and the unborn child are protected if they continue to be in the team, with a full risk assessment undertaken when a player announces they are pregnant. Players due to take maternity leave, 26 fully paid weeks, will have the opportunity to move to another role, such as community coach, until they go on leave.
In the event of contracts being renegotiated or extended during a player’s pregnancy, maternity or adoption leave, the individual will be included in all discussions and have their contract extended for at least 12 months.
The RFU stated that it will support any player returning following maternity leave, or main adoption caregiver, who is required to travel for training camps within 12 months of giving birth, providing that an additional person travels to assist in the care and supervision of the infant.
It will also cover all travel and accommodation costs for the child and support person for competitions in the country and overseas. A similar provision will be made for any player who would prefer their child to remain at home.
Paula Grant, people director at the Rugby Football Union, said: “The RFU is committed to providing a safe and inclusive rugby environment for all players, including those players who are pregnant or have children.
“We recognise that we need to develop opportunities and pathways for parents and players at all levels, and part of this requires an understanding of the challenges for players in the women’s game at professional level.
“The current policy allows players to make choices as well providing financial certainty. We know the policy will evolve over time and understand each player’s individual circumstances are unique.”