October 28, 2010
Regarding ‘Parliament backs 20-week maternity leave‘:
Europe’s leaders must use Thursday’s EU summit to fight against the introduction of new laws on maternity leave, voted on by MEPs last week, that will increase maternity leave from the current EU minimum of 14 weeks to 20 weeks, all of which will be on compulsory full pay – costing the EU €121 billion between now and 2030.
For small businesses, maternity and paternity leave in their current form are perceived as barriers to employment. For businesses without employees, these two pieces of legislation attract the highest levels of concern when they are thinking of taking on an employee.
We all want adequate, flexible maternity and paternity leave but it should be for elected governments in dialogue with parents and their employers to decide how much their economy can afford to give and how it is to be delivered. These proposals should be about setting minimum EU standards for the health and safety of pregnant workers – not adding new payroll costs for overburdened companies and national social security systems.
This is yet another example of how well-intentioned EU employment law is actually exacerbating our unemployment crisis. In the present economic climate we should be making it easier for people to gain employment, not placing obstacles in their way.
Tina Sommer – European Small Business Alliance (ESBA), President
John Walker – Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), National Chairman
Hendrik-Jan van Oostrum – Dutch Retail Association, Head of Brussels Office
Dr. Gunay Cerkez – KTTO (Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce), President