Conflicting views on EU maternity pay proposalsFriday, June 24th, 2011
EU Member States are critical of 20-week full pay proposed, but are criticised for their disrespect for the wishes of the European Parliament
In May 2011, the UK government began consulting on proposals to introduce a system of flexible parental leave that would guarantee 6 weeks full pay and 12 weeks reduced pay for mothers, and a further 21 weeks reduced pay to be shared between mothers and fathers.
In the background, however, is the European Parliament’s vote in October 2010 to approve amendments to the Pregnant Workers Directive that would increase maternity pay rights to 20 weeks on full pay.
On 17 June, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced the opposition of the UK government to the plans on the basis that they are “socially regressive” – because higher paid women would be the main beneficiaries – and they will result in considerable costs to Member States – estimated at £2 billion annually for the UK. The UK and seven other Member States have expressed concern about the proposals.
On the same day, Edite Estrela, the European Parliament’s “rapporteur” (spokesperson) on maternity leave, also issued a press release in which she expressed regret at the “disrespectful position” that some Member States have taken towards the European Parliament by not taking into consideration the large majority of MEPs who voted for the change and the results of a recent Eurobarometer opinion survey which showed that 78% of respondents were in favour of 20 weeks leave on full pay.