Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir: Iceland international welcomes ‘wake-up call’ after winning landmark maternity pay case
Iceland international Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir has described the decision to award her more than £72,000 in backdated wages while on maternity leave as “a wake-up call” for clubs.
The 32-year-old midfielder took her former employer Lyon to a FIFA court in a bid to recover her underpayment of wages during the period she was away when her son Ragnar was born.
A ruling released on Tuesday revealed the French club had been ordered to pay him 82,094.82 euros – around £72,139 – plus 5% interest per annum from September 10 last year until that the debt be cleared.
Responding in a post on his official Twitter account, Gunnarsdottir, currently in Italy with Juventus, said: “This story is bigger than me!
“It’s a wake-up call for all clubs and it’s a message to all players that if they get pregnant or want to get pregnant during their career, they have their rights and guarantees!”
Gunnarsdottir asked to be allowed to return home to Iceland for the final stages of her pregnancy, but asked for help from the players’ union in France, the National Union of Professional Footballers, and later FIFPRO, the body representative worldwide after receiving only a proportion. of the salary she believed to be due.
FIFPRO congratulated her on her historic victory.
A statement posted via its official Twitter account said: “FIFPRO congratulates Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir on her successful claim against Lyon over the club’s refusal to pay her full salary during her pregnancy.
“We are delighted to have helped her achieve the first such decision since FIFA’s maternity regulations came into force in January 2021.
“It is extremely important for women’s footballers and women’s football that these mandatory maternity regulations are both implemented and enforced at national level.”
Lyon are yet to comment on the decision.
FIFA rules, which came into force in January 2021, state: “A player is entitled to maternity leave, defined as a minimum period of 14 weeks of paid absence – with at least eight weeks after the birth – during the duration of the contract, remunerated at the equivalent of two-thirds of his contractual salary.”
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