Employers angered by plans to extend paid parental leave

A
Government move to increase paid parental leave to 12 months would damage the
economy and hurt small businesses, say employers’ groups.

The
criticism comes after an official Department for Education and Skills paper,
released this week, called for more extensive paid parental provisions.

Recent
hints from ministers also suggest the Labour Government could announce an
extension of the current six months paid maternity leave to one year in its
election manifesto.

The
Government increased paid maternity leave to six months, with a right to a
further six months of unpaid leave, last year. Paid paternity leave of two
weeks – a first for the UK – was also introduced. The impact of the laws are to
be reviewed in 2006.

David
Frost of the British Chambers of Commerce said increasing paid maternity leave
to one year would cost an employer £15,000 for a worker on average pay.

He
said any move to broaden the current provisions would be irresponsible and
damaging, particularly for small businesses.

Digby
Jones, director general of the CBI, said the suggestion of an extension
appeared to be ill-considered electioneering and the Government should wait for
the planned review in 2006 before making any changes.

By
Paul Yandall

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