Maternity legislation consultation opens

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has today called on both employees and employers from across the UK to consult on a European Commission proposal to amend the Pregnant Workers Directive, which is used by the UK government to shape UK regulations for working parents.

Rules around flexible work, maternity pay, maternity leave, and the right to return to work, are all covered in the proposal.

Many of the UK’s current maternity rules are more generous than the proposed commission regulations – for example, the concept of offering full pay to workers suspended on maternity grounds is already in existence in the UK.

The commission has also proposed to offer workers the opportunity to return back to the same or equivalent post on the same terms after maternity leave. Again, the UK already has this rule in place.

One area where the UK falls behind the commission’s proposed list of regulations is around compulsory maternity leave. Its intention is to increase the length of compulsory maternity leave from two to six weeks, while currently the UK offers just two weeks to workers.

The consultation requires respondents to answer a range of questions based on the current commission’s proposals and the impact that they could potentially have on working parents in the UK.

The UK government has set out plans to publish any comments on the commission’s proposals, along with any decisions taken as a result of the responses.

Comments on the consultation must be received by 22 June 2010.

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