Plans for 20 weeks' maternity leave on full pay rejected
Date online: 09/12/2010
At a meeting of the EU Employment Council, a large majority of ministers rejected the European Parliament’s proposal to legislate for 20 weeks of maternity leave at full pay. They expressed concerns regarding the cost implications of extending paid maternity leave. They also rejected plans to include paternity leave in a draft Directive on maternity leave, since the main purpose of the Directive would be to improve the health and safety at work of pregnant women, not to reconcile work, family and private life.
The Belgian Presidency concluded that the Commission's original proposal to extend the minimum length of maternity leave from 14 to 18 weeks could be a more acceptable basis for a compromise than the European Parliament's amendments. The Presidency will now consider how best to continue with the Directive in coordination with the two forthcoming presidencies, Hungary and Poland.
Among other things, ministers also adopted two sets of conclusions on gender equality. These emphasised the need for a more detailed understanding of the European Union’s gender pay gap of 18 per cent. Members States were invited to adopt or pursue a comprehensive set of measures to tackle the full range of causes of the gender pay gap. Together with the Commission, Member States were invited also to monitor the gender pay gap, and progress in tackling it, on a regular basis, taking into account the methodology of the Structure of Earnings Survey. Every four years the survey studies EU wide data on gross earnings, hours paid and annual days of paid holiday leave.
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