Earlier this week, European Union ministers rejected the European Parliament’s proposal to extend maternity leave from 14 weeks of full pay to 20 weeks. Nevertheless, even current maternity leave in Europe far surpasses the Family and Medical Leave Act in the US, which only provides for 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
The ministers expressed concern about the potential costs of the 20-week minimum leave, which passed European Parliament in October. Instead, member states stated their willingness to discuss the European Commission’s original draft directive, which proposed extending maternity leave to 18 weeks.
The ministers also addressed paternity leave but elected to leave it out of the directive, which was primarily aimed at improving health and safety conditions for pregnant women or women who had just given birth.