Employers and recruiters can breathe a sigh of relief as the EU Council has rejected proposals for the right to 20 weeks’ fully paid maternity leave.
Currently in the UK, employees and qualifying agency workers are entitled to up to 39 weeks of maternity leave, the first 6 weeks of which is to be paid at 90% of average pay. However earlier this year the European Parliament proposed to extend rights across Europe to full pay for 20 weeks.
One estimate circulating was that the proposals would cost around £2.5 billion a year. The UK was among other EU nations including Germany and France that successfully lobbied for the proposals to be rejected. Provisions relating to paternity leave were also rejected from the draft Pregnant Workers Directive.
Belgium, the current holder of the EU presidency, will now propose a plan to reach a compromise, which is expected around the New Year.