Extending Maternity Leave?

Today ministers meeting at the EU Employment and Social Affairs Council on Monday 6 December will be discussing the European Parliament’s proposals to extend maternity leave to 20 weeks and possibly change it from partial pay to full pay. I know that Family Friendly Working is read by a good mix of parents and small business owners, and I’d love to know your views on this.Maternity leave is currently set by a 1992 EU directive, which sets a minimum duration of 14 weeks.  The new proposal published by the European Commission extends that to 18 weeks with a non-compulsory recommendation that it be on full pay.  However, the FEMM Committee voted to increase this to 20 weeks, all of which would be on compulsory full pay.  The same committee also proposed that the two week paternity leave allowance also be on full pay.  These proposals combined would cost the UK taxpayer an additional £2.5 billion.

I was disappointed to see that The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is urging minister to reject the proposal: I feel that they are putting the short term cost of additional leave over the better chance of retaining employees long term. In countries like the US, however, maternity leave is usually much shorter than over here.

Have you or your partner failed to take all the leave you were entitled to because you couldn’t afford to? What have been the implications if you have returned to work after a shortened leave period for you, your family and your baby? Let me know what you think.

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