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EU vote on extended maternity rights postponed

EU vote on extended maternity rights postponed 

A vote by the European Parliament scheduled to take place this month on proposals to extend basic EU maternity and paternity rights, including providing  20 weeks maternity leave on full pay, has been postponed until May 2010, pending a full impact assessment.

The European Commission put forward proposals to amend the Pregnant Workers 18 months ago. The amendments were subject to the Co-Decision process part of which required a review by the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality. In February of this year  the Committee voted in favour of the extension of a number of rights, many of which would not have much impact in the UK, except one, i.e. to extend European rights to maternity leave to 20 weeks, the whole of which period would be on 100% of normal salary

The European Parliament were due to vote on the proposals later this month. But the vote has been postponed until May, pending a full impact assessment, which will look at the social, environmental, economic and budgetary costs and benefits of prolonging maternity leave on full pay and introducing two weeks’ paid paternity leave.

The European Conservatives Reform Group women’s committee spokesman is quoted in the EU’s Parliament Magazine as saying that the proposals could hurt women, by increasing the risk of them being indirectly discriminated against. The British Chamber of Commerce commented that the Pregnant Workers Directive should be about setting minimum EU standards for the health and safety of pregnant workers – not adding new payroll costs for overburdened companies and national social security systems.

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