Plans to extend paid maternity leave to 20 weeks have been met with dismay by business group the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), which has expressed concern over the potential impact on companies.

Employment ministers from across the EU met to discuss the amended pregnant workers directive on Monday (December 6th 2010) and the BCC has estimated the annual cost of the proposals to UK businesses at around £3 billion.

“When public finances across the EU are tight, encouraging economic growth in the private sector must be the top priority,” said policy director Dr Adam Marshall. “We urge ministers to reassess the financial implications.”

He warned that the regulations could impose “unacceptable costs” on national social security systems across Europe and urged British politicians to fight against the directive.

UK employment relations minister Ed Davey promised earlier this week to lobby fellow lawmakers over the rules, describing them as “socially regressive” and emphasising the need for flexibility.

Posted by Cameron Thomson