EU pregnancy law defeated

Wednesday, 08, Dec 2010

The European Parliaments plans to extend maternity leave at 90% of full pay from 12 to 20 weeks have been defeated, it could be said largely due to Ed Davey, employment minister who has lobbied hard among his European colleagues.
Britain argued not only that the timing was poor – the cost too high but also that mothers on a higher income would benefit more and therefore it was a socially regressive move. France and Germany agreed with the UK for once.
It was also claimed that the plans would cost the taxpayer an extra £2 billion pounds and be an added strain on business – and be another barrier to growth.

Clearly – smaller employers again would have been the hardest hit. However, there is an argument for the bigger picture – most women will not return to work after only 12 weeks maternity – but some feel forced to by economics (maternity pay after the 12 week period is a miserly £124 a week. Should a mother not be encouraged to recover physically and mentally from childbirth before returning to work?

The defeat means new EU laws on the matter will not be decided on before next year – which is a win for the economy in the short term.