"Protect pregnant workers and provide better maternity and paternity leave," say S&D Euro MPs

Protect pregnant workers and provide better maternity and paternity leave say S&D Euro MPs, Maternity Leave Directive, Marie Arena, Iratxe García Pérez, on women's rights and gender equality, pregnant women, paid paternity leave, Father, Mother,

The European Parliament today called on the European Commission to make a new legislative proposal in order to unblock the discussions on the Maternity Leave Directive and to start negotiations under the Luxembourg presidency.

The call came following an initiative of two S&D Euro MPs, Marie Arena as European Parliament's rapporteur and Iratxe García Pérez, chair of the committee on women's rights and gender equality.

After today's vote, Marie Arena said:

"The European Parliament has sent a clear signal: the Commission must present a new legislative text on maternity leave if it decides to withdraw the current proposal on the table. We are asking the Commission not to give up on pregnant women. There are many reasons to support them. Many young women are putting off their plans to have children, while the European population is ageing.

"We want better maternity leave for women. We want to protect the health and safety of pregnant women when they are at work and we want to protect them after they give birth because they are very often victims of discrimination and dismissal. We want pregnant women to receive full protection during their maternity leave because a lot of them are exposed to the risk of poverty.

"In order to improve the conciliation of private and professional life and reduce the gender gap, we are also calling on the Commission to present a separate legislative proposal establishing a paid paternity leave. Fathers must also have the right to achieve a work-life balance."

Iratxe García Pérez added:

"The Commission has already announced last December that it will withdraw the proposal after a six month period if no substantial progress is made in the Council of Ministers. We strongly deplore the attitude of the Council and urge the member states to resume negotiations."

Note to the editors:

In 2008, the European Commission proposed increasing compulsory maternity leave from 14 to 18 weeks minimum, of which six would have to be taken immediately after childbirth. It also recommended that member states pay women their full salary during this leave period.

In 2010 the European Parliament proposed a 20 week maternity leave with full pay of which 6 are mandatory after birth. Since then, the Council of Ministers has never engaged in negotiations with the European Parliament nor has it presented its position.