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EU plans to force six weeks leave for new mums

The European Commission is planning to extend the compulsory maternity leave for new mothers.
Under new European Commission plans, working mothers could be forced to take at least six weeks off from their jobs after giving birth.

At the moment, women who work in office-based jobs in Britain have to take a minimum of just two weeks off, while female factory workers must take four weeks.

However, in a draft EU directive on maternity, the European Commission has sought to extend compulsory leave as well as introducing other measures aimed at helping new mothers.

Among the other outlines are plans to triple the £11-aweek statutory maternity pay and to make it harder for employers to refuse a parent's request for flexible working.

The Commission also wants to give mothers of twins or whose babies are hospitalised, premature or have a disability extra time off, as well as letting mums take the non-compulsory part of maternity leave whenever they want after becoming pregnant.

Despite the obvious benefits for many who have children, the government is concerned that further legislation at European level will reduce the amount of flexibility given to mothers and could damage the careers of business-women who would like to get back to work as soon as possible.

Vladimir Spidla, the EU's Social Affairs Commissioner, said: "Our proposals to improve maternity leave will help women to combine work and family life, improving their and their family's quality of life."

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