Maternity leave extended to one year

Maternity leave is to be extended to one year under new
measures unveiled today by the Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers.

The announcement is part of the Government’s response to its
work and parents green paper and the changes include a three-month extension of
unpaid maternity leave which means new mothers can take 12 months in total off
work.

The DTI has also revised the framework for maternity pay and
leave regulations for both employers and employees.

Expectant mums will have to give their employers greater
notice of when they intend to start and return from their maternity leave. The
notice period is being increased from three to four weeks.

A new interactive website will give working mothers tailored
information on their maternity leave and pay entitlements at the touch of a
button.

Byers said, “With more women in work it is vital to put in
place measures that allow working mothers to combine being a good parent with
holding down a job.

“The right to take a year’s maternity leave will make a real
difference to a child’s first year of life. Mothers want to be able to spend
more time with their baby and a longer period of leave helps them to be better
prepared when they do come back to work.”

Mothers are currently entitled to18 weeks paid maternity
leave, with the first six weeks being paid at 90per cent of average weekly
earnings and the remaining 12 weeks paid at a flat rate of £60.20 a week.

The Government announced in the budget that from April 2002
the flat rate will increase to £75 and in 2003 there will be further rise to
£100 as well as an extension to the length of time this rate is paid from 18
weeks to 26 weeks.

www.tiger.gov.uk

www.dfee.gov.uk

By Richard
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