The European Parliament today voted through controversial proposals that will extend maternity leave to 20 weeks on full pay and introduce a compulsory full paid paternity leave of two weeks.

Commenting, David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“Today’s vote in the European Parliament will leave business dismayed. On the day that the Chancellor announces £83bn worth of cuts to government spending, it is outrageous that the UK exchequer will be saddled with a bill for nearly £3 billion.

"That the European Parliament has gone to the trouble and expense of conducting an impact assessment only to ignore the findings will seem incredible to our members.

“This directive should be about setting minimum health and safety standards for pregnant workers, not adding new payroll costs for overburdened companies and national social security systems. The idea that employers or our public finances can bear an additional £3

billion per year is deeply out of touch with economic reality. UK businesses will be hoping that member states can now curb the worst excesses of these proposals”.