In Sunday's Guardian Unlimited and other U.K. papers, the talk was about the new Work and Families Act, which gained support from the Royal Assent recently. The Act extends an already generous paid maternity leave from six to nine months beginning in April 2007. The UK government hopes to extend it even further, up to 12 months, by the end of its Parliamentary session. In addition, under the new act, the leave can be transferred to the father if the mother returns to work within 12 months.
As the article notes, the Federation of Small Businesses in the U.K. is warning the government to "tread very carefully" when implementing the new act. It cites burdensome paperwork and other logistical nightmares the U.K.'s small businesses will face in administering the program, not to mention the obvious fact of having to temporarily replace the worker or absorb the work.