The TUC’s recent analysis reveals that UK statutory maternity leave pay is sitting just above the worst in Europe, with only Ireland and Slovakia worse off in ‘decently-paid’ entitlement. This is defined as at least two-thirds of previous earnings.
At near triple the minimum EU requirement of 14 weeks, the current maternity system in the UK means the majority of mothers are guaranteed up to 39 weeks pay. However, mothers are only entitled to 6 weeks ‘decently-paid’ leave, where a minimum three months are required in Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Italy, Malta, Spain and Switzerland. The TUC also added that women who earn under £112 a week receive no maternity pay as they are not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay.
General secretary of the TUC, Frances O’Grady, stated: “Many European countries offer decent support to new mums, but lots of parents here are forced back to work early to pay the bills.” To prevent this, the trade union body argues that statutory maternity pay should match the minimum wage. Director of Maternity Action, Ros Bragg claims “The vast majority of lower-paid and lower-skilled jobs do not come with contractual maternity pay.” Only some UK employers offer more than the minimum.
The opinion of the TUC continues by stating that parents should be able to take their leave in smaller chunks to allow for more flexibility. Paternity pay should also be increased to allow men to stay at home and play a greater role in childcare.