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Government 'right to oppose maternity leave proposals'

Government 'right to oppose maternity leave proposals'

The government is taking the right stance by lobbying against proposals that could see the amount of maternity leave women are allowed on full pay increase to 20 weeks, according to one expert.

Emyr Williams, director of, said the coalition is right to stand against the proposed move by European parliament as the cost to the economy could be over £2 billion if approved.

He noted that small firms would be particularly affected, adding: "Many just couldn't afford to pay it, so might be tempted to avoid employing women they think may become pregnant."

According to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the coalition holds concerns that if European parliament decides to extend the amount of unpaid maternity leave offered to women to 20 weeks, unacceptable extra costs would be imposed on member states who cannot afford to cover them.

Edward Davey, minister for employment relations, attended a meeting of the European Union Employment Council this week where he argued the proposals would hit the purses of the public hard, as well as small businesses.

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