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Annie Hayes

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Labour dangles the voting carrot with paternity proposals

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Paternity pay for eligible employees currently stands at two weeks pay at £102.80 per week or 90% of average earnings if that is less than £100; revealed Labour plans show a big increase of pay up from the statutory levels to 90% of current earnings.

As well as upping paternity pay, plans to extend maternity pay periods from six months to 12 are afoot.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Patricia Hewitt, Trade Secretary said: “I have no doubt at all that a centrepiece of the manifesto will be a package of support for hard-working families and we will be campaigning on that.”

Carers who work are also expected to be given the right to work flexible hours, in line with rights afforded to mothers.

Business groups, the British Chambers of Commerce and the CBI are angered, however, by the proposals.

Referring to the planned extension to maternity leave a spokesperson at the BCC said it: “Could have a crippling effect on many small businesses who have just a small number of staff.”

While the CBI commented that extended leave periods could trigger “a significant increase in absence.”

No official decision has been made yet on the tabled reforms. The government has said that the new rights would not be introduced for another two years and only after a period of consultation with business leaders.

The Trades Union Congress signalled their support. General Secretary, Brendan Barber said: “Employers may complain, but this is a compendium of vote-winners.”

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Annie Hayes

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