The reform to the maternity leave came into effect yesterday and businesses claim it will saddle them with a £2billion bill. The period of paid leave to which new mothers are entitled to in the UK has been extended from six to nine months.
Lobbyists say this is good for working women – but bad for business. The £2billion cost will come from recruiting and training workers to cover new mothers’ longer absences.
This is a concern for small business because the average cost of filling a job vacancy is £10,000, according to recruitment consultancy Angela Mortimer.
The Forum of Private Businesses Chief Executive Nick Goulding, said “Although they can reclaim the cost of maternity pay from the Treasury, the bill for recruiting and training an employee to provide cover for nine months could affect them badly.”
With record numbers of women working, the cost of the reforms is likely to escalate. About a third of the country’s workers are women of childbearing age and official figures show nearly 730,000 babies are born each year.
A survey by law firm Browne Jacobson found three-quarters of bosses believe the reforms will ‘discourage employers from hiring women of child-bearing age’.
Although they will have to pay out of pocket at first, employers will be able to claim back 92 per cent of the extra pay with small firms eligible to get back more than 100 per cent.
I think this is really good for new moms in the UK. Nine months is a significant amount of time to be home with your newborn. It will give these moms time to experience some of the important firsts with their infants and breastfeeding longer, if they choose.
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