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Dutch Maternity Law & Others Face EU Wrath

(CN) - The Netherlands failed to adequately protect employee rights concerning maternity, adoption or parental leave, EU lawmakers told the Court of Justice on Thursday.

Under the EU Gender Equality Directive, member states are required to adopt laws that uphold the right of employees coming back from maternity, adoption or parental leave to return to their job or an equivalent position.

The law requires that men and women - irrespective of their employment contract - receive up to four months leave on the birth or adoption of a child.

It also requires that employees who have taken such leave benefit from any improvement in working conditions to which they would have been entitled during their absence. Employees also receive a right under the directive to request changes to their working hours or patterns for a set period of time.

Such protections do not exist, however, in the Netherlands, the European Commission said.

"This casts doubt over the degree of protection foreseen by Dutch law and makes it difficult for citizens to know and enforce their rights," the commission said in a statement.

In added that Dutch law "still does not include specific provisions outlining the conditions under which employees may return to their jobs."

"Furthermore, there is no express provision providing a no less favorable treatment for women returning from maternity leave and for men and women after exercising distinct rights to paternity and adoption leaves," according to the statement.

Referring the matter for action by the Court of Justice, the commission said it "considers the Dutch law as insufficient to ensure full legal protection for women and men returning from maternity, paternity or adoption leave."

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