Professional Triathletes Organisation announces maternity pay and rankings freeze

Pregnant members of the PTO will keep their PTO ranking and earn their full annual bonus

Credit: AP

Women athletes who are members of the Professional Triathletes Organisation are to benefit from paid maternity leave and protected rankings for the first time.

The PTO, a not-for-profit body launched in 2014 to represent touring triathletes, and which boasts Olympic gold medallist Alistair Brownlee as a board member, announced yesterday it would support pregnant members with a progressive new policy.

A PTO professional (any female professional triathlete who has signed on for free membership) will be entitled to take up to 15 months of maternity leave, beginning from her pregnancy start date and ending six months after birth. Crucially, they will also have their PTO world ranking fixed for the duration of the pregnancy.

Alongside prize purses earned on various triathlon tour events, including World Triathlon and Ironman, PTO members earn annual bonuses based on their PTO rankings, which remain separate from the other tour rankings.

Currently, Britons Lucy Charles-Barclay and Holly Lawrence are members and rank inside the PTO’s top 10 female triathletes.

Effective immediately, pregnant members will keep their PTO ranking and earn their full annual bonus, paid to them monthly, for the nine-month duration of their pregnancy plus six months post-partum. For example, the PTO women’s world No 5 is currently entitled to a $60,000 (£45,000) bonus payment at the end of a calendar year, and if she became pregnant would be paid at that same rate of $5,000 (£3,775) per month for 15 months from her pregnancy date, totalling $75,000 (£56,500).

“It recognises the unique reality women athletes face in trying to maintain a professional athletic career while balancing family planning,” Rachel Joyce, co-president of the PTO, said of the policy.

PTO executive chairman Charles Adamo said: “While triathlon has always had a great reputation in having equal prize purses for men and women, it has not managed to consider the reality that pregnancy and childbirth can cause a woman’s professional athletic career to be disrupted. The PTO’s maternity leave policy is just another example of the many ways that PTO professionals, by uniting together in their own organisation, have been able to have a positive impact on our sport.”

The ranking freeze tactic is in a similar vein to the one adopted by the Women’s Tennis Association tour in 2019, following high-profile tennis players such as Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka becoming mothers.

In addition, the PTO has introduced compassionate leave and compensation, protecting the ranking and earnings of athletes who suffer miscarriages, and parental leave to allow male and female members who become parents to take a four-month break from racing without it affecting their ranking and related bonus.

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