Women working in the UK receive some of the lowest decently paid maternity leave in Europe, new research has revealed.
A survey by the TUC showed that new mums in the UK get 1.4 months of well-paid statutory maternity leave, compared the majority of other European nations that offer three months or more. This puts the UK 22nd out of 24 countries - with only Ireland and Slovakia offering less.
Croatia is at the top of the list, providing new mums with six months of decently paid maternity leave. Hungary is second, with the Czech Republic third, both of which offer more than five months.
In fourth is Poland where women get 4.6 months of good maternity pay. Estonia, Italy and Spain are all in joint fifth, providing 3.7 months.
Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, commented: “Many European countries offer decent support to new mums. But a lot of parents here are forced back to work early to pay the bills.”
The TUC wants the government to increase statutory maternity pay to bring it up to the same level as the minimum wage, and is also calling for greater support for self-employed mums.
Of course, many British companies offer women more than the statutory minimum maternity pay and leave. Earlier this month, the Daily Mail reported on a survey by employment agency Glassdoor that highlighted some of the most female-friendly places to work in the UK.
Among the firms mentioned was UKFast, where women get 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, and Accenture, where new mums can take nine months of maternity leave on full pay.
Flexible working options is another thing that stands out among the list of companies highlighted by the agency, with the likes of Sanctuary Group, MEC and Barclays among those praised by employees for their flexible working policies.