The UK is in "the relegation zone" in Europe's league table for decently paid maternity leave, says the TUC

 
Rebecca Smith
Most European countries offer three months or more of
Most European countries offer three months or more of "decently paid" maternity leave (Source: Getty)

The UK trails much of Europe when it comes to offering "decently paid" maternity leave, according to new research from the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

It came 22nd out of 24 European countries that offer statutory maternity leave in TUC's analysis, with only Ireland and Slovakia ranking below the UK.

Decently paid leave was defined as time off paid at two-thirds of women's pre-maternity leave earnings or more, or a rate of pay greater than £840 or €1000 per month.

While the UK has a relatively generous period of maternity leave when stacked up against other countries, the TUC's analysis showed the leave is not. Mothers in the UK get six weeks of good pay by the TUC's reckoning, while most European countries offered three months or more.

Read more: Employers must approach premature maternity leave sensitively to keep staff

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said:

The UK is in the relegation zone when it comes to decently paid maternity leave.

Many Europeans countries offer decent support to new mums. But lots of parents here are forced back to work early to pay the bills.

The TUC has called on the government to raise statutory maternity pay and maternity allowance to the same level as the minimum wage so mothers are not forced to go back to work before they are ready, and to increase shared parental pay and paternity pay to the same level as the minimum wage.

Iceland, Norway, Portugal and Sweden didn't feature in the analysis as their laws do not distinguish between maternity leave and general parental leave.

European league table of maternity leave

Ranking

Country

Maximum length of decently paid postnatal maternity leave in months

1

Croatia

Six

2

Hungary

5.6

3

Czech Republic

5.1

4

Poland

4.6

5=

Estonia

3.7

Italy

3.7

Spain

3.7

8=

Belgium

3.3

Denmark

3.3

France

3.3

Malta

3.3

Switzerland

3.3

13

Greece

3 (public sector) 2.1 (private sector)

14

Finland

2.9

15

The Netherlands

2.8

16

Slovenia

2.6

17

Romania

2.1

18=

Austria

1.9

Germany

1.9

Lithuania

1.9

Luxembourg

1.9

22

UK

1.4

23

Ireland

0

24

Slovakia

0

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