Maternity regulations 'will hit small businesses hard'
New changes in maternity regulations will add to pressure on small businesses which are already struggling under new regulations such as new fire responsibilities, the Forum of Private Businesses (FPB) has claimed.
In October, extra responsibilities for fire safety, new age discrimination regulations, an increased minimum wage and changes to maternity rights may leave small firms holding the baby, the FPB's chief executive Nick Goulding warned.
The new maternity rights laws means that small businesses will no longer be exempt from requirements for companies to keep an employee's position, or a similar job open while they are on maternity leave.
Employees will also not have to have worked at the company for a qualifying period in order to take extended leave.
Mr Goulding said: "There is a danger that firms will be left with the costly and difficult task of replacing staff who have entered into the job, knowing they will be taking extended leave very early in their employment."
However, the FPB has welcomed new rules that increase the amount of notice a person on maternity leave must give if they want to return to work earlier or later than planned, as well as new entitlements letting them work up to ten days without ending their leave period.