The English Football Association and Professional Footballers' Association have agreed a change to contracts that will see players in the English women's game guaranteed maternity and long-term sickness cover.

The recently reached agreement will mean cover for players at the 24 clubs across the Women's Super League and Championship.

Maternity cover has been something previously at the discretion of clubs.

During a Parliamentary debate on women's football on Wednesday Julie Elliott, the MP for Sunderland Central, said the change being implemented would be "a massive step forward".

Elliott said: "The issue of maternity rights for players impacts on their lives hugely.

"In research conducted by Dr Alex Culvin last year, players were quoted as saying they 'need longer contracts so we feel more secure. I shouldn't have to think I need to sign a four-year contract because I want to have a baby, so I know they'll pay me'.

"However, I understand that a new player contract has been agreed between the FA and the Professional Footballers' Association that includes maternity cover and long-term sickness cover.

"I understand that this is a standardised contract that would cover players playing in both the Women's Super League and the Championship.

"If that is accurate and is to be implemented, it will be a massive step forward for the status of women footballers and, more importantly, for the terms and conditions and employment rights that they experience.

"I pay tribute to all those who have worked so hard in the game to get to this point."