EU-wide maternity plans would cost Britain £2bn

CONTROVERSIAL plans to introduce a Europe-wide standard on maternity leave would cost Britain £2bn per year, business leaders warn.

MEPs have backed a minimum period of 18 weeks’ maternity leave on full pay, a huge extension of the six weeks currently available at 90 per cent pay in the UK.

Labour ministers were urged not to sign up to the deal, which would apply to all 27 European Union member states.

CBI director-general John Cridland said: “At a time when economies across Europe are struggling to recover, and most treasuries are short of money, it would be highly damaging to increase the costs of statutory maternity pay.”

The Institute of Directors said the plans would hurt British businesses.