Wednesday, 3 November 2010

EU Increase maternity leave 2nd reply

For completeness here is Catherine Bearder MEP reply to Bill Bloggs letter 'EU increase maternity leave policy'
 

Dear Bill,

Thank you for contacting Catherine regarding the vote last week in the European parliament on the revision of the pregnant workers directive. Catherine forwarded me this email and asked me to respond on her behalf and also pass on her good wishes. She hopes to be getting down to Bracknell soon. If you have any questions for Catherine in future it is best to contact her via catherine@bearder.eu rather than her cix account, which she is phasing out and doesn't check as regularly.

 

Catherine did not support the amendments you refer to. Her Liberal Democrat colleague in the European parliament Liz Lynne MEP tabled amendments to the proposals by the European Parliament's Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee, calling for full pay to be taken out of the report. This directive was always intended, quite rightly, to provide minimum standards to protect pregnant workers and women who are breastfeeding, but some of the amendments in the report went further and did not take into account the different traditions of Member States. For example, some countries have maternity leave, some have paternity leave as well, and some have parental leave. This leave is paid in totally different ways and at different rates – some from the social security systems, some from businesses and some are a mixture.

 

Whilst Catherine supports the original purpose of the directive, her view is that we can only really impose minimum standards at EU level and it should be for Member States to go beyond this if they wish. This legislation is intended as Health and Safety legislation for women at work.

 

Catherine is, as you are, concerned about the enormous costs associated with the proposed changes and was pleased that a second, more detailed impact assessment was carried out in to the Women's Rights Committee's amendments which between now and 2030 would cost some €121 billion.  As I said before, the extension of maternity leave could cost the UK €3 billion (£2.5 billion) each year. This is a staggering amount at a time when we have to stabilise the economy and deficit after years of mismanagement and waste by the Labour Government.

 

The amendments as voted through by MEPs last week could have a significant effect on businesses and particularly small businesses that are struggling to fight the effects of the recession.

 

This is still the first step in a long negotiation process and now the text will go to the Council of Ministers for their consideration. I believe that the UK's coalition government will not approve these proposals as it would have a negative impact not only on the UK but other Member States also.

 

Thank you once again for contacting Catherine and I hope this response has been of use to you.

 

Yours sincerely,

Mark Wheeler

Office of Catherine Bearder MEP

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