Maternity leave reform 'would cost thousands'

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Small businesses European union European parliament Fsb

Maternity cover: vote in Europe
Maternity cover: vote in Europe
The FSB is calling on the EU this week to reject proposals to extend maternity leave to 20 weeks.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling on the EU this week to reject proposals to extend maternity leave to 20 weeks - claiming it could cost small businesses an extra £7,000.

The FSB is concerned that the additional cost to the UK - estimated to be £2.5 billion - will be passed onto small businesses and could act as a deterrent for small firms to take on new members of staff.

The ruling, which would increase maternity leave from the current 14 weeks, would cost a small business with a full-time employee on an average wage of £25,428 an additional £7,140.

The FSB is urging the European Parliament to reject these proposals and is calling for maternity and paternity to be reformed by introducing a 'flexible leave' system to allow parents to choose their leave arrangements.

FSB EU and International Affairs chairman Tina Sommer said: "Small businesses are known to be flexible employers and it is unfortunate that maternity and paternity leave is one of the biggest barriers for them when looking to take on staff.

"The FSB fears that that these changes will result in an increase in the cost of maternity and paternity leave and will mean these costs have to be shared between Government and the employer, at a cost of more than £7,000 to a small business - placing a further strain on cash-flow.

"These proposals should be about setting minimum EU standards for the health and safety of pregnant workers - not adding new payroll costs for overburdened businesses.

"This well-intentioned EU employment law will not help small firms take on new members of staff - vital at this time of high unemployment. In the present economic climate we should be making it easier for people to gain employment, not placing obstacles in their way.

"The FSB is urging MEPs to reject these proposals when they come before the European Parliament in October."

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