Britain will urge European Union member states to reject a proposed extension of maternity rights that would entitle new mothers to 20 weeks’ full pay, saying the step would cost the U.K. 2 billion pounds ($3 billion) a year.
Business Minister Ed Davey will travel to Brussels today to meet his EU counterparts and discuss the recommendation from the European Parliament. His office said he will argue that it would prevent Britain from implementing its own measures just as EU countries are trying to grow after the recession.
“Minimum standards across Europe are important, but countries also need the flexibility to put in place arrangements that work for them in their own individual circumstances,” Davey said in an e-mailed statement. “We are absolutely committed to creating the best possible family-friendly environment in the U.K., but the solutions on the table today are not the best way to help.”
British women are already entitled to 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay. They receive 90 percent of their average wage for the first six weeks and 125 pounds a week for the remaining 33 weeks.