EU MPs call for 20 weeks' minimum maternity leave

17th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

The European Parliament committee wants to further extend maternity leave to 20 weeks.

BRUSSELS – The European Parliament committee on women's rights called Thursday for a minimum 20 weeks of maternity leave, including six weeks fully paid, to be introduced throughout the EU.

The proposed extension of the maternity rights is two weeks longer than the European Commission has suggested and that call from the EU's executive arm has already been criticised as too generous by some member states.

Under current European law, dating back to 1992, employers must offer 14 consecutive weeks of maternity leave.

The EU commission proposal would boost that figure to 18 weeks, with an obligation for new mothers to take at least six weeks off immediately after giving birth.

The European Parliament will vote on this issue in full session when it meets in Strasbourg next month.

The parliament is co-legislator on this issue with the 27 member states.

"The objective is to have a positive effect on the health of mothers and... to establish a strong relationship with the child," explained socialist Portuguese MEP Edite Estela, the plan's parliamentary rapporteur.

The parliamentary committee also suggested that a minimum of 85 percent of an employee's regular salary be paid throughout the maternity leave, along with the six weeks on full pay.

The MEPs also called for fully-paid leave in special cases, including premature birth and multiple births.

Even the original 18-week plan would require some EU nations to make significant changes to their current rules.

Germany, where the minimum maternity leave is currently 14 weeks, has been at the forefront of the sceptics.

The parliamentary committee is not leaving fathers out of the equation, proposing a minimum of two weeks paternity leave.

AFP / Expatica

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