The recent European league table showing decently paid maternity leave (with "decent" being considered as either 2/3rds of salary or more than £840 per month) puts the UK almost at the bottom, ranking 22 out of 24.
Croatia comes out as number 1, with six months pay, and Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic follow with more than four months pay. Only Ireland and Slovakia have worse pay than the UK.
Whilst the UK allows for a long period of time off work (as a mother is entitled to take 52 weeks of maternity leave), it is criticised for having low amounts of pay that drop off quickly.
Women on maternity leave are entitled to maternity pay as follows:
- 90% of their average weekly pay for the first 6 weeks of their maternity leave; followed by
- 33 weeks at either the Government's prescribed rate (currently £139.58 a week) or 90% of their average weekly pay, whichever is the lower.
Some generous employers pay more than the above but there is no statutory obligation for them to do so.
Statutory maternity pay for UK mothers is among the worst in Europe, according to an analysis by the TUC. The trade union body says only Ireland and Slovakia have worse "decently paid" entitlements.It defines decently paid as two-thirds of a woman's salary or more than £840 a month. The government said the UK's maternity system was one of the most generous in the world and most mothers could take up to 39 weeks of guaranteed pay. That was nearly three times the EU minimum requirement of 14 weeks, a statement said.