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UK Ranked Among The Worst Europe's Countries For Maternity Pay



The UK is lagging behind the rest of Europe when it comes to offering decently paid maternity leave for mothers, new research claims.
According to the Trades Union Congress, the UK came 22nd out of 24 European countries which offer statutory maternity pay.
British mothers are entitled to receive 90% of their average weekly earnings in statutory maternity pay for the first six weeks of their leave.
But the TUC's report says most new mums on the continent are eligible for decently paid maternity leave for considerably longer.
Mothers in countries such as Italy, Spain, France and Denmark are entitled to at least three months of pay - often at 100% of their earnings - increasing to four months in parts of Eastern Europe and six months in Croatia.
Although employed mothers in the UK are entitled to a maternity allowance for 39 weeks, the sum is restricted after six weeks.
For the remaining 33 weeks of their statutory maternity pay, they can only claim £139.58 a week or 90% of their average weekly earnings - whichever is lower.
The TUC says only Ireland and Slovakia offer less decently paid maternity leave than the UK, and the current system is putting pressure on families.
General secretary Frances O'Grady warned: "Many European countries offer decent support to new mums, but lots of parents here are forced back to work early to pay the bills."
The findings were robustly challenged by the Department for Work and Pensions.
A spokesman said: "The truth is the UK's maternity system is one of the most generous in the world, and most mothers can take up to 39 weeks of guaranteed pay.
"This is nearly three times the EU minimum requirement of 14 weeks."
Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: "In theory mothers get a generous length of maternity leave but many feel they have to go back to work before they are ready simply because they can't afford to stay off.
"Others would share leave with the baby's father but it's paid so low that he can't afford to take it either. So everybody loses out."




(Sky News)

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