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EU ministers reject maternity leave plan16th of March 2011
EU ministers have overwhelmingly rejected a move by Euro MPs to extend maternity leave to 20 weeks on full pay in the 27 nations. The social affairs ministers voiced concern about the cost of the 20-week minimum the European Parliament voted for in October.
Minimum maternity leave in the EU is currently 14 weeks - the European Commission has proposed extending it to 18 weeks.
A statement from the Council - the EU body representing member states' governments - said many ministers were also reluctant to include paternity leave in the directive, "whose main purpose was to improve the health and safety of pregnant women and workers who have recently given birth".
The MEPs' amendments included a proposal for two weeks of paid paternity leave for fathers as a minimum.
Under the Commission's original plan, mothers would be entitled to 18 weeks' paid maternity leave, but not necessarily on full pay - it could be at or above the sick-leave rate.