UK lobbies over European maternity leave proposals

The UK has reinforced its opposition to proposals by MEPs to introduce 20 weeks of maternity leave on full pay.

Chris Grayling, Employment Minister, visited Brussels on 17 June to attend a meeting of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) for an update on the Pregnant Workers Directive and repeated the UK’s opposition to the proposals put forward by MEPs in October 2010.

The government is concerned that 20 weeks of maternity leave at full pay would result in considerable costs for EU member states when they can least afford it.

Mr Grayling said: “The proposals that MEPs put forward are costly for the UK. When member states are trying to balance their books in difficult times, this is the wrong approach to adopt.”

Employment Relations Minister Edward Davey added: “What MEPs have tabled is not the right solution. Minimum standards are important but it should be down to the individual member states to adopt their own model – not for Europe to dictate this.

“We have recently launched our own consultation that looks at introducing a fully flexible and family-friendly solution to parental leave that is tailored to suit the UK. Simply saying 20 weeks at full pay, in a one size fits all format, is not the way forward.”

The government’s Modern Workplaces consultation continues until 8 August.

LINK: Modern workplaces consultation