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Extended maternity leave could suffer to save the economy

Prime Minister David Cameron's plans to help out families face the axe as government advisers warn they could harm small businesses

Posted: 17 October 2011
by Daniella Delaney
pregnant woman holding her bump
Plans to help out pregnant women could be under fire from the Cabinet

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, could be forced to back down on his plans for extended maternity and paternity leave and flexible working rights for those with families.

He's coming under pressure from senior members of his cabinet who believe the plans could further harm the already frail UK economy.

The Government has already outlined proposals to allow couples greater freedom to co-ordinate their maternity and paternity leave. There is also a separate proposal to make it easier for parents to request flexible working hours.

The scheme means parents could divide up all the existing 12 months of maternity leave, possibly even breaking it up into stretches as short as a few weeks.

Business leaders have described the plans as a nightmare and the Prime Minister is also under pressure from Chancellor George Osborne and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, who are among those warning that the measures could hinder business growth.

Others, such as Mr Cameron's policy guru, Steve Hilton, are pushing further, controversial plans, including one to abolish maternity pay completely and shocking when you consider the news that most dads reckon they can't afford to take paternity leave

The news couldn't come at a worse time for Mr Cameron, who's already unpopular with his female voters after it was revealed his party's pledge to provide more midwives hasn't been fulfilled.

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