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2007 National Women's Conference
26 January 2007

Conference welcomes the new rights for parents and carers to be introduced in the Work and Families Act, which will come into force in April 2007

It notes that parents and carers struggling to achieve work life balance will now be able to take advantage of the following improvements:

1)Statutory Maternity Pay, Maternity Allowance and Statutory Adoption Pay will increase to 39 weeks;

2)The removal of the length of service requirement for Additional Maternity Leave so that employees will be able to take up to one year off work;

3)Carers of disabled adults will have the right to request flexible working.

The new legislation also introduces new rights for employers and employees to keep in touch during maternity or adoption leave. Women will be able to go into work for up to 10 Keeping in Touch days without losing their Statutory Maternity Pay.

Conference further notes that In the 2006 Pre-Budget report delivered on December 6 2006, Gordon Brown announced that from April 2009 every mother-to-be will be eligible for Child Benefit from week 29 of their pregnancy. This means that women will be up to £200 better off by the birth of their first child and up to £130 better off at the birth of their subsequent children.

These are welcome developments, however Conference notes that for many women working in the public sector, their existing maternity provisions are in excess of the current statutory provision, and believes that action should be taken to ensure that public sector employers keep their best practice status in this field.

It therefore calls upon the National Women’s Committee to work with

Service Groups to seek to secure further improvements in maternity, maternity support, adoption and carers leave and payments, and particularly to put pressure on employers whose provision was previously more generous than the statutory minimum to stay ahead of the game and continue to offer their women employees more than they are required to by law.