2 Maternity leave |
|(30022) 13983/08 COM(08) 637
+ ADDs 1-2
|Draft Directive amending Council Directive 92/85/EEC 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
Commission staff working documents: impact assessment and summary of assessment
|Legal base||Articles 137(2) and 141(3) EC; co-decision; QMV
|Department||Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
|Basis of consideration||Minister's letter of 31 March 2009
|Previous Committee Report||HC 16-xxxiv (2007-08), chapter 2 (5 November 2008)
|To be discussed in Council||No date set
|Committee's assessment||Politically important
|Committee's decision||Not cleared; further information requested
2.1 When we considered this draft Directive in November 2008,
we noted that the Council had adopted the Pregnant Workers Directive
in 1992 to encourage improvements in the safety and health at
work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth
or are breastfeeding.
Among other things, the Directive established minimum entitlements
to maternity leave and maternity pay and prohibited dismissal
during the period from the beginning of a pregnancy until the
end of maternity leave (save in exceptional cases not connected
with the worker's pregnancy).
2.2 In its explanatory memorandum on the draft Directive,
the Commission said that amendments to the Pregnant Workers Directive
to increase the minimum period for maternity leave, increase maternity
pay and give pregnant workers additional protection are proportionate
ways to improve the health and safety of women, help them reconcile
their work and family obligations and promote equal opportunities
between men and women in employment.
2.3 The draft Directive proposes extensive amendments
to the 1992 Directive, such as increasing the minimum period of
maternity leave from 14 to 18 weeks and requiring that the monthly
maternity pay a woman receives will provide her with an income
equivalent to her monthly salary in the month before her maternity
leave begins (or her average monthly salary).
2.4 The Minister for Employment Relations at the
Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Mr
Pat McFadden) told us that the Government agreed with the Commission's
aim of ensuring that parents have the support they need to reconcile
their work and family responsibilities. To that end, the UK has
already put on the statute book legislation which gives pregnant
workers entitlements which go beyond most of the minimum requirements
of the 1992 Directive and the proposed Directive. The UK's legislation
has been carefully developed in close consultation with parents
and their employers. This has enabled the UK to build on the EC's
requirements and ensure the UK's provisions are tailored to the
UK's conditions. Any action at EU level should respect and protect
the agreements the Government has reached in consultation with
workers and employers. The Government was concerned about some
of the provisions of the draft Directive and would seek clarification
of them. The Government would also prepare its own Impact Assessment
of the proposals and hold public consultations on them.
2.5 We concluded that the aims of the proposed Directive
were reasonable and that the legal bases for it seemed appropriate.
The Government had a number of questions and doubts about the
draft Directive which appeared to us to be legitimate and on which
it would be seeking clarification from the Commission. Accordingly,
we asked the Minister for progress reports on the negotiations
and reports on his Department's public consultations. Meanwhile,
we kept the document under scrutiny.
The Minister's letter of 31 March 2009
2.6 The Minister encloses with his letter a copy
of his Department's consultation paper on the proposal to amend
the Pregnant Workers Directive 1992. The purpose of the negotiations
is to inform the Government's negotiations in the Council and
ensure that the concerns of employers, employees and families
are represented. Views are invited by 22 June.
2.7 The consultation paper includes the draft of
the Government's Impact Assessment of the Directive. The draft
suggests that the annual cost of the proposals, if the Directive
were adopted, might be £3.7 million a year for the Exchequer;
£759,000 to £843,000 for small businesses; £1.6
million to £1.7 million a year for large businesses; and
£611,000 to £6.9 million a year to individuals. The
total annual benefits might be £442,000 to £506,000.
The Department invites comments on the draft of the Impact Assessment.
2.8 We are grateful to the Minister for sending
us the consultation paper. We should be interested to learn the
responses to it. So we should be grateful if the Minister would
send us a summary of them.
2.9 We also look forward to receiving the Minister's
progress reports on the negotiations. Meanwhile, we shall keep
the draft Directive under scrutiny.
6 See HC 16-xxxiv (2007-08), chapter 2 (5 November
Council Directive 92/85/EEC: OJ No. L 348, 28.11.92, p.1. Back