Byline: DARREN BEHAR
IMPROVED maternity rights will make employers unwilling to employ young women, a group of influential female executives warned yesterday.
The highfliers believe bosses will be swamped by the administrative burden of rights for working mothers.
They warn that giving mothers preferential treatment would cause growing resentment in the workplace as those who do not have children are expected to cover for them.
A survey has found that up to 70 per cent of employers would be reluctant to employ women of childbearing age because of the new rights.
The latest attack adds weight to concerns about the flood of Government initiatives to help women achieve a balance between their work and home lives.
The informal committee of influential women, which was brought together by the Institute of Directors, attacked new maternity regulations as difficult to manage, costly and damaging to business competitiveness - especially for small firms.
Its concerns focus on extensions to maternity leave. In a move designed to encourage mothers to stay at home with their babies for longer, paid leave will be increased from 18 weeks to 26 weeks in 2003.
Mothers will also be entitled to a further 26 weeks of unpaid leave.
Maternity pay, which currently stands at [pound]60.20, will also increase - to [pound]75 a week from April and [pound]100 a week from April 2003.
Mothers will also be given the right to demand flexible working hours from April 2003.
Employers will be compelled to consider requests from those with children under the age of …