The UK Government seems a bit stressed about the forthcoming directive on maternity leave.
There is a story about it on EUobserver, but it doesn't mention what is one of the most important aspects for the UK.
As it stands at the moment, the proposal would give the mother free choice as to when she takes the non-compulsory part of maternity leave. Bizarrely there doesn't seem to be any limit as to how soon before or after the birth the leave can be taken and any requirement for the leave to be taken consecutively.
The full leave entitlement in the UK is a currently a (pretty generous) 52 weeks, and the 2 weeks after giving birth are compulsory. The directive would raise the latter to 6 weeks and would effectively allow the mother to take any of her non-compulsory entitlement (i.e. the other 46 weeks) any time she wanted - and in as many periods as she wanted – thus allowing for scenarios which would create total chaos and make it virtually impossible for cover to be arranged.
The UK are trying to get it fixed so that peoople have to take their time off in a reasonably predictable way, and make it easier to manage cover for firms. But it soesn't seem to be in the bag yet. Stay tuned.