Update 2 | Government extends maternity leave, Labour welcomes 'U-turn'

State will finance four additional weeks of maternity leave at €160 a week, to be introduced in 2013.

Mums get four more weeks of maternity leave in 2013.
Mums get four more weeks of maternity leave in 2013.

Updated at 2:38pm with Joe Farrugia (MEA) reaction and 4pm with Labour statement.

The government has legislated to increase maternity leave to a full 18 weeks by 2013, in amended rules to the protection of maternity rules after having mounted an opposition to extended leave in the European Council.

Government has decided to pay the additional weeks of maternity leave at a fixed rate of €160 a week.

The new rules will allow a pregnant employee to apply for maternity leave for an uninterrupted period of 16 weeks as from 1 January 2012, and to 18 weeks as from 1 January 2013 onwards.

The Labour party said in a statement that the Maltese government had opposed the extension of an EU-wide maternity leave inside the EU institutions. The PL dubbed the move a U-turn and said that it welcomed the fact that "in principle the government agrees with Labour's consistent position."

Employees on maternity leave on 1 January 2012 will be automatically entitled to enjoy maternity leave for an uninterrupted period of 16 weeks, even where such maternity leave commenced before 1 January 2012; employees on maternity leave on 1 January 2013 will take 18 weeks' leave.

A new concept introduced is that employers cannot force pregnant employees to work overtime, or during the 12-month period following a birth or the adoption of a child.

The proposal was announced in the last Budget, and later discussed with the social partners within the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development.

Malta Employers Association director-general Joe Farrugia said that while the MEA was not opposed to the extension of maternity leave, the association had called for a mangement audit of all family-friendly measures being introduced. "We want to see effects of women being absent from work. Because we want to encourage more women to the labour market, but we also have to see that there will be a demand for these women. Small businesses especially want to know the effect of somebody who is absent from work for 18 weeks."

Farrugia said employers are usually concerned with "abusive" practices where employees take sick leave before and after taking maternity leave. Women in Malta are also obliged to work a full six months with their employers after claiming maternity leave.

Asked whether extended maternity leave would create new employment oppornuties for others, Farrugia said that business needs an infrastructure that helps employers fill the gap created by women on maternity leave. "we need temporary work agencies and also more flexible employment contracts."

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jgalea....you forgot your customary Religo et Patria call to summon up your crusader friends before going to slay the barbarians in the name of your idols, goodness, sainthood, national interest and most importantly, your bank accounts.
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Telfa kolossali lill partit (tat taparsi) tal lejbir. Xi tkaxkira kbira gejja dear Joe. Il poplu Malti can't wait :)
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Kemm jiswa dak is-siggu fil-Parlament. Meta toqrob l-elezzjoni kemm isiru U turns biex ma jintilifx dak is-siggu komdu.
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Luke Camilleri
Gonzi Goodies....anything to divert attention from Franco Debono! Consultants and Coach working overtime...and we are footing the! bill!