Progress in bid to stop costly and regressive maternity proposals
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Issued on 06 December 2010 15:26 - BIS
The UK today joined seven
other countries in agreeing a strong collective statement to make clear
their joint concerns about the proposed new Pregnant Workers Directive.
Ministers from across Europe
expressed their concerns with proposals put forward by MEPs during a
meeting of the EU Employment Council (EPSCO) in Brussels.
They share the belief that
the European Parliament’s proposed move to 20 weeks of maternity leave
at full pay could impose considerable and unacceptable additional costs
on many Member States at a time when economies across the EU can least
Minister for Employment
Relations Edward Davey said:
“The UK and other countries
have today made clear that EU rules on maternity rights should not be
reformed in a costly and regressive way. The changes proposed by MEPs
would restrict a Member State’s ability to deliver a system that works
in the best interests of parents.
“We have agreed that we must
pause for reflection before we determine how, or indeed if, an
acceptable compromise can be reached. On the basis of the current
proposals it is difficult to see how such a compromise can be achieved.”
Chris Grayling, Minister for
Employment, who represented the Government during the meeting where
issues such as pensions, gender equality, employment policy and climate
change were also discussed said:
“This is an important
development. Member States have made plain their concerns. There
couldn’t be a clearer sign of the strength of feeling than the joint
statement tabled today.”
It is estimated that the
proposals put forward by the European Parliament would cost the UK more
than £2 billion per year.
This Directive is subject to
the co-decision procedure, which means that proposals must be agreed by
Member States and the European Parliament.
The UK is committed to
introducing a new system of shared parental leave and extending the
right to request flexible working to all employees. The Government will
be consulting shortly on this issue with stakeholders and interested
- The travel disruption caused by the inclement weather
prevented Minister for Employment Relations Edward Davey attending the
meeting as well.
- Currently in the UK, the standard rate of £124.88 per week
means that those on the lowest incomes receive the highest proportion
of their usual remuneration. For example, women on an annual salary of
£10,000pa receive 69% of salary as their total maternity pay during the
period of paid leave. On a salary of £30,000pa women receive 32% of
salary and at £60,000pa receive 23%.
- Under the Parliament’s proposals a woman earning £10,000pa
would only get 20% more maternity pay, whereas a woman earning
£60,000pa would receive 146% more.
- Key elements of the European Parliament’s proposal are:
- 20 week’s maternity leave, in principle at
- 20 weeks’ adoption leave on the same terms;
- Two weeks’ paternity leave at full pay.
- The UK government is committed to “encourage shared
parenting from the earliest stages of pregnancy – including the
promotion of a system of flexible parental leave” as part of the
Coalition agreement alongside commitments promoting equal pay, taking
measures to end discrimination in the workplace, and extending the
right to request flexible working to all employees.
- Under the Ordinary Legislative Procedure (formerly known as
the “co-decision” procedure) the European Parliament and the Council of
Ministers each adopt a first reading position based on a proposal from
the European Commission. The European Parliament adopted its first
reading position on the Pregnant Workers Directive on 20 October 2010,
and the Council of Ministers is now considering its position. Until the
Council adopts its first reading position, these proposals will not
- Council met today for its first exchange of views. Along
with seven other countries the UK tabled a minute statement. The
Presidency concluded it would prepare a note before the end of their
presidency setting out the way for negotiations to proceed.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2010-12-07 16:15:41 in Employee Articles