I note that Natasha Kaplinsky, the former BBC , and now Channel Five newsreader is to end her service with the TV station at the end of 2010 ‘by mutual consent’.
Now normally I pay very little attention to the high-paid ‘celebrity’ broadcasters we see swanning around these days, mainly because their lives, and the retailed stories around those lives, mean very little to the likes of myself.
But if we delve just a slice below the surface, we see a pattern which has emerged over the lifetime of the three Labour Governments, and a small revolt against that pattern by at least one employer who is demanding, rightly in my view, at least a small return on the investment of cash paid to this particular ‘broadcaster’.
It seems as though our Natasha has actually spent over a year of her three years with the TV station on Maternity leave, due to giving birth to two children. She commenced her stint at channel five with a £1 million deal, but took a pay-cut to only £700,000 upon her return after the birth of her first child, as she would only be doing one broadcast an evening. She promptly fell pregnant again with her second child, and took a further six months off work, as she was legally entitled to do so.
She returned to work this month, but in the meantime, guess what? Channel Five had got itself a new owner; in the form of Richard Desmond. With most remembering Desmond as the ‘Porn King’, with such broadcasting gems as Dirty Talk, Filth, Red Hot Mums and Red Hot Fetish in his stable named Portland, not too many remember him as the ruthless, cost-cutting buisnessman he really is. Not many realise that he has pulled the Daily Express back from the brink by ruthlessly slashing costs and jobs, to the effect that the Daily Express is now financially viable. It is in fact Desmond who has really placed the blocks under Natasha’s career, because he isn’t seeing any return on his investment.
But I now come to the point of my little screed, which is this; for Natasha, replace her with any fecund female in a responsible position within a company; replace Desmond the multi-millionaire with any medium-sized business, and you get the same outcome! Because the woman in question chooses to have a child, she removes herself from her employment whilst on full pay for up to six months, and the Company has to pay for a replacement during her absence, and then has to employ her once more at the end of her maternity leave!
No wonder young women are being discriminated against in the workplace. No wonder companies large and small fight shy of promoting females of child-bearing age, because they just start to see a return upon their usually-heavy investment in training or recruitment, when the woman goes off to have a child!
I am not against maternity leave, or benefits accordingly. I am against a State which states that employers have to like it or lump it, because most of them will take the second option!