European Parliament Committee Approves 20-Week Maternity Leave Proposal

The European Parliament's women's rights committee voted in favor of extending paid maternity leave from 14 to 20 weeks and granting two weeks' paid paternity leave. Previously, the European Commission proposed extending leave to 18 weeks. As reported by, parliament will vote on the proposed legislation on March 25. If the measure passes, the process by which member states review the text and parliament passes the final version could take 18 months.

Some suggest that requiring employers to provide additional paid leave is inappropriate given the current economic climate, and that small businesses will suffer. Resistance is particularly strong in the United Kingdom where compliance costs would almost triple, reports Currently in the United Kingdom, one year of leave is available; the first six weeks are compensated at 90% of the employee's salary, and then at the statutory amount of £123 per week for the remainder. If passed, the measure could cost U.K. employers an additional £1.5 to £2 billion per year.

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