On this day which will no doubt be dominated by the Comprehensive Spending Review, it is worth bearing in mind that the European Parliament is voting today on the question of whether to extend a mother’s right to maternity pay to 20 weeks’ full pay. Although there has been a good deal of lobbying, particularly on behalf of small businesses, it seems likely that the proposal will be passed.
The British Chamber of Commerce has suggested that the amendment to the Pregnant Workers’ Directive, if passed, could cost Britain £2.5bn. That terminology “could cost Britain” is significant because, under British law, employers are fully reimbursed for the cost of statutory maternity pay. Under current UK legislation pregnant women are entitled to six weeks’ pay at 90% of their usual pay, followed by 33 weeks on statutory maternity pay of a little under £125 per week.
According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, 18 member states already have maternity pay arrangements which are comparable to those being proposed.