A committee of the European Parliament has approved draft legislation which if implemented would require employers to pay women on maternity leave full pay for 20 weeks.
The current legislation in England and Wales provides for payment of 90% of normal pay for the first 6 weeks and then Statutory Maternity Pay (which will generally be at a lower sum) for a maximum of a further 33 weeks.
The European Parliament will consider the proposal in early March although doubts have been expressed as to whether it will ever be implemented given the potential for a further financial burden on employers and/or Governments at a time when economic confidence is still very fragile.
The UK Government, the Institute of Directors and the British Chambers of Commerce have already expressed concern about the additional costs which would be involved, especially when UK legislation in this area is already generous by comparison with a lot of other EU countries.
Watch this space!