Jean Lambert, the Green MEP for London, has welcomed European Parliament’s adoption of a report  calling for 20 weeks maternity leave at full pay and two weeks paternity leave across the EU as “real progress”.
The report, which was voted on in Strasbourg on October 20, also called for stronger anti-discrimination rules, and greater provision for working mothers who are breastfeeding.
Jean, who is a member of the Employment and Social Affairs committee, said:
“Today’s vote represents real progress towards dismantling the continuing barriers that exist to potential and existing working mothers.
“The current system in the UK forces many women back to work after just six weeks, before they are emotionally and physically ready, because they are unable to survive on the statutory pay of just £125 – a sum below the poverty line. An increase to 20 weeks at full pay would mean all women, not just those who can afford it, could reconcile having children and working.
“Furthermore, the report importantly makes provision for greater paternity leave in some countries. Studies show fathers who spend more time with their children immediately after the birth take a greater role in sharing the childrearing duties – again giving women more time to work and raising the female labour participation
“This report is not perfect, there is the question of a ceiling on maternity pay, but it is a huge step in the right direction and sends a strong message to Council. Ultimately, if you are lucky enough to find a job in this climate you should not lose it because you have had a child.”
Notes to Editors
 This was the first reading of the report ‘on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding’, and it will form the basis of negotiations with council.
The report was produced for the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality by rapporteur Edite Estrela.
To read the draft report in full visit: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&reference=A7-2010-0032&language=EN&mode=XML