13 OCT 2010
Honor Mahony | EUobserver
Plans to extend maternity leave in the EU to 20 weeks have come under fire by the British government a week before the proposal is due to be voted on in European Parliament.
Set to put forward the harshest budget in years on Tuesday (20 October) as it aims to slash its budget deficit of about 11 percent of GDP, London is balking at the new EU legislation which it says would cost it billions of pounds.
MEPs are to vote on revising a 1992 law on maternity leave to give women 20 weeks on full pay and granting fathers two weeks of paid leave. The current version of the law requires women to be given 14 weeks of minimum sick pay leave.
"The amendments put forward by MEPs on maternity and paternity pay would cost us up to 2.4 billion pounds (€2.7 billion)," said a UK government spokesperson, according to AFP.
"To put this into context, we currently spend around two billion pounds a year on maternity pay, meaning the cost would effectively double."
The MEPs' version of the law is markedly more generous than the 18 weeks giving pay level discretion to member states the European Commission had originally proposed.
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