Every mother who returns to work full-time must be allowed ‘breastfeeding breaks’ of up to two hours each day, according to the latest rules from Brussels.
Under proposals being considered by MEPs, mothers would also be given the right to work part-time for a year after having a baby, and be entitled to 20 weeks’ maternity leave（产假） on full pay.
The British Chambers of Commerce warned the measures could cost the Government £2.5billion, and ‘risk the position of women in the workplace’.
It warned taxes would have to rise to cover the extra costs, such as hiking VAT even higher to 20.5 percent.
Under the proposals, buried in Europe’s Pregnant Workers’ Directive, with which Britain would be legally obliged to comply if passed:
* Every mother who returns to work full-time must be allowed ‘breastfeeding breaks’ of two hours every day.
There is no cap on these breaks, which means they could continue for years if the woman decides to breastfeed beyond the traditional period.
* Mothers will have an ‘absolute right’ to a flexible job and will be entitled to work part-time for up to one year after they return to work.
* No boss will be able to force a woman to do a night shift or overtime in the ten weeks before her baby is born or during the breastfeeding period.
* Mothers will get full pay for the first 20 weeks of maternity leave. They currently get 90 percent of their salary for six weeks, followed by £128.73 a week for the next 33 weeks.
* It will also be compulsory（强制的） to have at least six weeks off after giving birth, compared with two at the moment.
* Fathers would see paternity pay increased to two weeks’ on full pay. At present, they receive £128.73 a week for a fortnight.
British mothers returning to work can currently ask to work flexibly but a boss has the right to refuse if there is a clear business reason why it is not possible.
Phil McCabe, from the Forum of Private Business, said: ‘Business do want to accommodate（适应，调解） mothers but such extreme measures would make it increasingly difficult for small firms. They are mad. There is a risk it would put off some business owners from employing women of child-bearing age.’