EU plans longer maternity leave

1 min Read Published: 24 Feb 2010

This story nicely links with yesterday's chosen Headline regarding the cost of bringing up a child. So is there light at the end of the financial tunnel for families?. The Times reports that ...

A massive extension of maternity leave across Europe was last night voted for by the Womens’ Rights Committee of the European Parliament to make it compulsory for employers to pay mothers for a minimum of 20 weeks on full pay.....

On the face of it this looks great news given that in the UK women get just six weeks paid leave at 90% of the mother’s average pay, followed by 33 weeks Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) of £123 a week. But as stated later in the article, the proposal is likely to meet stiff opposition from member states.

This story provides another example of how you can get greater insight into an article by putting it in to context with other financial news. Given that the UK is now drowning in debt and political parties are trying to win votes by declaring ways to cut the deficit, is a Government really going to want to start increasing statutory maternity pay? Obviously the answer is NO. So they will oppose these plans. But what if their protests prove unsuccessful? Then in all likelihood firms will be forced to take up the slack in pay, rather than the state.

It does not take a genius to work out that employers, particularly small businesses, may start discriminating against young women when it comes to employment. It's not right but it makes financial sense as potentially increasing your wage bill for no extra input could force small companies under. Which obviously wouldn't be good for any economic recovery.

So while women planning on having a family may rejoice at the news (and I personally think it's a good thing) don't bank on it becoming a reality, certainly not any time soon.