By Claire West

Overshadowed perhaps by the Spending Review yesterday the European Parliament voted through controversial proposals that would extend maternity leave from 14 to 20 weeks on full pay and introduce a compulsory fully paid paternity leave of two weeks .

Commenting, David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“Today’s vote in the European Parliament will leave business dismayed. On the day that the Chancellor announces £83bn worth of cuts to government spending, it is outrageous that the UK exchequer could be saddled with a bill for nearly £3 billion. That the European Parliament has gone to the trouble and expense of conducting an impact assessment only to ignore the findings will seem incredible to our members.

“This directive should be about setting minimum health and safety standards for pregnant workers, not adding new payroll costs for overburdened companies and national social security systems. The idea that employers or our public finances can bear an additional £2.5bn per year is deeply out of touch with reality. UK businesses will be hoping that member states can now curb the worst excesses of these proposals”.