Page last updated at 08:45 GMT, Monday, 12 April 2010 09:45 UK

Warning over maternity law change

Generic pregnant woman
Staff may be entitled to an extra two months off

Rules that may allow new mothers to take more annual leave before returning to work could cost councils millions of pounds, employment experts have warned.

Planned changes mean that women in professions such as teaching may be entitled to an extra two months off after taking a year's maternity leave.

The plan has led council body Cosla to write to local authorities warning them about the implications of the issue.

The warning follows recent rulings in the European court and House of Lords.

Employment law specialist Lindsay Cartwright from Morton Fraser said: "Potentially, for teachers, they would be entitled to take their annual leave at the end of their maternity leave even although school is in at that point in time, whereas teachers normally have to take their leave during school holidays.

"And because teachers get more than 60 days leave in a year, that could be quite expensive for councils to implement."

Trade Unions

In a letter sent by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) to the directors of finance at each of Scotland's councils, the organisation said: "Teachers' annual leave entitlement is the balance of days beyond the working year and amounts to 66.

"Teachers who have been on maternity leave for an entire year will therefore by entitled to 66 days paid leave on their return."

The organisation told BBC Scotland: "Cosla is currently in discussions with its partners, including the relevant trade unions within the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers, to ensure that the conditions of service comply with the regulations."

Glasgow City Council alone has warned the issue could cost them up to £2m a year.

Women in the UK are currently entitled to a year off, with the first six weeks on 90% pay, followed by 33 weeks on Statutory Maternity Pay. The remainder is unpaid.



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SEE ALSO
EU plans extended maternity leave
24 Feb 10 |  Business
EU plans longer maternity leave
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