MEPs have voted in favour of a number of measures designed to strengthen maternity protection, including extending maternity leave to 20 weeks on full pay. Currently women can take 52 weeks' maternity leave, but statutory maternity pay is limited to 39 weeks. The proposals must now go for approval by the EU countries, and also include banning employers from dismissing pregnant workers in the six months following their maternity leave, as well as prohibiting pregnant workers doing night work or overtime in the ten weeks prior to childbirth and whilst breastfeeding.

UK business leaders and Conservative MEPs have lobbied against the 20-week proposal which, it has been reported, could cost UK businesses an extra £2.5bn a year. Bitesize will continue to update you on any developments.