The European Parliament has just voted for 20 weeks maternity leave at full pay.
You will see from my article for the Guardian Comment is Free section yesterday that Labour MEPs did not support this. We calculated that a woman on the UK national minimum wage of £5.93 would be £650 a year worse off with 20 weeks maternity leave on full pay than under the British system whereby she would receive 6 weeks at 90% of full pay followed by 33 weeks at £124.88, the statutory rate of pay.
The proposal adopted by the European Parliament does very little for lower paid women and quite a lot for those who are better off. This is not how Labour MEPs wish to see EU member states’ scarce resources used. We want to target the low paid not the better off.
Of course, the Draft Directive on pregnant workers written by Portuguese member of the Socialist and Democrat Group Edite Estrela now has to be agreed by the European Council – the body comprising the national governments from all the EU countries.
There have been strong rumours that the Council will not agree the 20 weeks maternity leave on full pay.
So the European Parliament may just have made an utterly futile gesture. Not at all what we want for our new mothers.