December 6, 2010

UK campaigns against 20 weeks maternity leave

by Jan Harris

The UK is spearheading a campaign against EU proposals to increase fully-paid maternity leave from the current EU minimum of 14 weeks to 20 weeks.

Employment ministers are expected to reject the decision by MEPs to increase maternity provision at today’s meeting of the EU Employment and Social Affairs Council.

British employment relations minister Ed Davey called the European Parliament’s proposals “socially regressive”.

Business groups, including the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), are also against the increase.

The FSB has warned that the increase could cost small businesses an extra £7,000 per employee, while the total cost to the economy could be as much as £2.5 billion.

The organisation believes that the decision should be up to each member state, based on the strength of their economy.

The European Small Business Alliance, based in Brussels, is also calling for the plans to be dismissed, saying they could exacerbate the unemployment crisis.

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