Businesses employing up to 50 staff should be exempt from maternity leave obligations for staff who have been employed for less than two years.

Why is this idea important?

The one-size-fits-all approach to employees' maternity rights was designed with larger employers in mind. It discriminates against small businesses, and is a major disincentive for them to hire women of child bearing age.

At present, a new staff member could announce that she intends to leave to have a baby on the first day of her employment, placing an obligation on the employer to make costly alternative arrangements for her temporary replacement – and of course she may subseqently decide not to return to work at all.

Larger employers with HR departments have much greater resources to accommodate this by transferring other staff, hiring temps etc. A small business has no such resources and may face an intolerable period of additional cost and uncertainty.

Businesses with up to 50 staff should only be obliged to provide maternity leave, pay and perks to staff who have been continuously employed for at least two years.


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