Natasha, the freelancer, to forego maternity pay

One of Britain’s best-known newsreaders, Natasha Kaplinsky, is preparing to take an estimated pay cut of £100,000, so she can take time-off to become a mum.

The new face of Five news will reportedly take a ‘few months’ off from September from her £1million-a-year job, which she started just six weeks ago.

But the 35-year-old was not hired as an employee, rather the news programme took her on as a freelance, meaning she will not be entitled to any maternity pay.

Had she been on a staff contract, Ms Kaplinsky would have earned 90% of her estimated £20,000-a-week pay package, the Daily Mail calculated, in the first six weeks of maternity leave.

In other words, in a month-and-a-half, she would have pocketed £108,000, before the payouts would have been reduced to statutory maternity pay each week of £112.75.

Yet any worker, high-profile or not, would likely disappoint their employer if, just six weeks into the job, they claimed £100,000 in paid leave, on top of an annual six-figure salary.

In January, Ms Kaplinsky told the Times she had discussed with Five her wish to have children, but her friends have since claimed she had no idea she may have been pregnant when she joined the channel.

Since starting for the broadcaster, and news-reading in style that was attacked by some for being too casual (sitting on a couch), Ms Kaplinsky has been credited with boosting the programme’s ratings by 72%.

Chris Shaw, senior controller of Five, has publicly gushed that the channel’s evening news bulletins, previously anchored by former ITV News man John Suchet, have felt the “Natasha effect.”

Viewers will wait and see if she remains the consummate professional should she have to read headlines about Sir Alan Sugar, who last week said women should state their intentions about having babies to recruiting employers.

Kaplinsky was lured from the BBC in October, after agreeing to sign a £1million contract with Five, making her the UK's highest paid newsreader.

She is also said to to be the first newsreader in the country to have her name credited in the programme title; 'Five News with Natasha Kaplinksy.'

 

1st May 2008

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