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EU Blocks New Maternity Rights

Thursday, June 19, 2014

EU Commission Block New Maternity Rights As Part Of Regulatory Reform Agenda

This is yet more proof that regulatory reform means deregulation and attacks on worker’s rights and protections says GMB

GMB commented on announcement that the EU Commission has used the regulatory reform agenda to block proposals to extend maternity pay from 14 weeks to 20 weeks. See notes to editors for links the EU Commission announcement.

The EU pregnant workers directive is a fundamental source of maternity rights at work in the UK, and the proposals were aimed at further strengthening these rights.

·    The main point of contention in the proposals was the one to extend minimum maternity leave from 14 to 20 weeks, on full pay (based on last monthly salary or average monthly salary). The UK in particular argued this measure would be too expensive and make women less employable. –The UK currently lags behind many Member States in terms of maternity leave pay.

·    The proposals also looked at strengthening legal provisions for pregnant workers, for example their right not be forced to perform night work or overtime, and their right to breastfeed at work.

·    The proposals recommend better dialogue between employers and trade unions to facilitate woman’s reinsertion in workplace, support, training, etc.

·    The proposals also aimed to ensure that the working time of pregnant workers takes into account the need for medical check-ups and appointments.

Kathleen Walkershaw, GMB Brussels Officer, said “The Commission has used the same process to block the proposed maternity rights as they used to block the employer/union agreement on hairdressing health and safety.

EU Commission claims that with REFIT - regulatory reform agenda- it is making EU legislation simpler, clearer and less costly. This is yet more proof that regulatory reform means deregulation and attacks on worker’s rights and protections.... as if we needed it.

This isn't better regulation this is deregulation, and it is workers who are paying the price. All of this is stacked in the interests of business and the costs are being paid by those with little means to bear them.

The EU Commission seems hell bent on making people love Europe less. It should put its shoulder behind promoting health & safety and pregnant workers' rights and putting a beating heart back in to a Social Europe, not cutting off its circulation."


Contact Kathleen Walker Shaw, GMB European Officer 07841 181 549 or 00 32 2 230 56 75 or GMB press office 07921 289880/ 07974 251 823.

Notes to editors

Announcement by the EU Commission and links

The Commission has reported on 18th June 2014 on REFIT - regulatory reform agenda -implementation progress and some new deregulation initiatives, including "withdrawals of proposals pending in legislative procedure". Pregnant workers is included in this list - and all the new proposals for deregulation / withdrawal made will become part of the 2015 Commission Work Programme.

Here is the link to the main Commission REFIT page:

Scroll down to story number two - 'what is new' for more info the announcement, and on the right of this one can click on 'state of play and outlook' for a pop-up of the new proposals made today, including scrapping pregnant workers.

Where it states:
"The Commission considers it good legislative management to withdraw proposals that do not advance in the legislative process, in order to allow for a fresh start or for alternative ways to achieve the intended legislative purpose. A close scrutiny of all pending proposals before the legislator has resulted in the identification of further proposals which are either outdated or without support by the legislator and should therefore be suggested for withdrawal. These include proposals [...]pregnant workers".

Tthe Commission scoreboard document (  says the pregnant worker directive "could be considered for withdrawal".

The ETUC press release on the issue is here:

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