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"Maternity leave is a right not a luxury" says local MEP

Ahead of International Women's Day on Sunday, Glenis Willmott MEP has demanded better maternity leave and pay for women at an EU level. Critical EU legislation is at risk of being scrapped if representatives from national governments don't agree to re-open discussions on how to support new mothers.

Glenis Willmott, Labour MEP for the East Midlands said: 

“As a mother and new grandmother I fully appreciate how important it is for parents to have the time to bond with their new-borns. This time is extremely precious and should be cherished. 

“Many mothers are in employment, and indeed, they are critical to our economy. Therefore, it is imperative that they are not only offered appropriate maternity leave and pay, but can access adequate levels of affordable childcare to allow them to return to work.” 

The Maternity Leave Directive was proposed by the European Commission in 2008 and this resolution was passed by the European Parliament in 2010. Unfortunately, the Directive has been blocked by the European Council since 2010 and therefore the Commission have threatened to axe it if there is no further action by May 2015. 

Glenis Willmott MEP added: 

“On average, the gap in earnings between men and women in Europe stands at 16% and shockingly increases to 39% with regards to pensions. We believe that we can try and tackle this injustice by calling for a new modern maternity leave framework to supporting hard working parents. 

“Much more needs to be done here in the UK and across the EU. Labour MEPs have raised our concerns with the UK Government's representatives in Brussels and we have written to Esther McVey MP as the Minister for Employment. 

“Fathers as well as mothers should be offered support, which is why I welcome Ed Miliband's pledge to double paid paternity leave for fathers from 2 weeks to 4 weeks. A Labour Government would also increase the amount to £260 a week, matching the National Minimum Wage. 

“Maternity leave and pay should be a right and not a luxury. I hope that the UK Government recognise the valuable role that working mothers play in the UK and across the EU and call for the negotiations on the revised Maternity Leave Directive to recommence.”

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