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Firms urged: Don't employ young women; Yorkshire Euro MP slams maternity leave.

Byline: By BARRY GIBSON News Reporter

"ANY small businessman or woman who employs a woman of child-bearing age needs their head examined."

That's the controversial view of a leading Yorkshire politician to proposed changes in maternity leave legislation.

Godfrey Bloom, who represents the region in the European Parliament, criticised plans to increase the minimum period of maternity leave from 14 to 18 weeks.

The European Union also wants new mums to get full pay. In Britain mothers get 90% of their salary for the first six weeks, then pounds 117 a week for the next 33 weeks.

Mr Bloom believes the changes would hurt small businesses.

The United Kingdom Independence Party Euro-MP told the Examiner: "Maternity leave is already significantly onerous for small businesses. A woman could go to an interview knowing she is pregnant and in line for 18 weeks of paid leave.

"Any small businessman or woman who employs a woman of child-bearing age needs their head examined."

Mr Bloom denied his views were sexist.

He said: "I get letters from young women telling me they don't want the legal protection because they think it's stopping them getting a job. I think the legislation around maternity leave is leading to covert discrimination against young women.

"Businesswomen are very much more fearsome against this than businessmen.

They spit feathers about it."

Mr Bloom added: "I employ three women of child-bearing age but they are friends of the family. I'm very lucky because I know that if they decided to have babies they wouldn't hold me to ransom.

"Women of child-bearing age bring so much to a company. They are so clever and sparky which is why I want more small businesses to employ them."

The proposed changes to maternity leave legislation are currently being discussed by Euro-MPs and employment ministers and could be agreed this year. The European Union's 27 countries would then have two years to implement the change.

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CONTROVERSIAL: Godfrey Bloom
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Mar 16, 2009
Words:326
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