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Postponement of damaging maternity proposals by Tory MEPs

Friday, 12th March 2010

The European Parliament had planned to grant pregnant women twenty weeks of maternity leave on full pay without an investigation into the impact this would have on businesses or on the individualís right to choose their maternity leave. Local MEPs Emma McClarkin and Roger Helmer have successfully campaigned with their Conservative colleagues to shelve these plans until a full assessment of such proposals has been carried out.

The East Midlands Conservative MEPs hope that the extra time will enable MEPs to take a long hard look at the costs of the proposals to both small businesses and to the public purse.

Maternity leave is currently set by a 1992 EU directive, which sets a minimum duration of 14 weeks. The new proposal published by the European Commission extends that to 18 weeks with a non-compulsory recommendation that it is on full pay. However, the Women's Rights committee has voted to increase it to 20 weeks, all on compulsory full pay. It also introduces a two week paternity leave provision.

The report, which was due to be adopted later this month, is now expected to be debated in May, following the UK general election.

Roger Helmer comments from the Parliament in Strasbourg:

"MEPs need to take a long hard look at the cost of these plans to governments and businesses. I am pleased that we have been able to agree a postponement of the vote so that we can have a clear assessment of the costs of these plans. I hope that, once they realise the damage that could be done to business, MEPs will rethink the plans."

Emma McClarkin adds:

"The EU should not be deciding how much time new mothers and fathers should take off. That is a matter for national governments and an individual's personal choice. These plans would reduce a woman's right to choose, and make young women less employable. It's time for these plans to be taken back to the drawing board."