UK maternity pay way below EU average

The
UK, Greece and Luxembourg have the lowest level of statutory maternity pay in
the EU, according to new research.

The
study by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, looks at statutory pay built up over
six months of maternity leave, and shows the most generous allowances are given
in Denmark and Italy.

For
a woman earning £15,000 a year, total pay accumulated after six months’
maternity leave would be just £1,250 in Greece, £1,845 in Luxembourg, and
£2,458 in the UK. Yet the entitlements in Denmark, Italy and Sweden would be
£6,756, £6,058 and £6,000 respectively.

Based
on the same example, average statutory maternity pay across the EU for six
months’ leave is £4,198.

Gary
Bowker, employment law consultant at Mercer, said: "This is one area of
employment law where wide discrepancies persist across the EU.  Allowances in some member states are more
than four times those in others."

The
research is part of Mercer’s global analysis of employment conditions and
benefits in 60 countries worldwide.

Bowker
said: "With the Government’s emphasis on family-friendly policies, it’s
surprising that UK statutory benefits are so much lower than in the rest of the
EU.  However, a growing number of
companies are now providing benefits above the legal minimum as a recruitment
and retention tool."

In
April 2003, the UK maternity benefit allowance will rise from 18 weeks (six
weeks at 90 per cent of pay and £75 for the remaining 12 weeks) to 26 weeks
(with the remaining 20 weeks will be paid at £100 a week). 

By Quentin Reade

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