How do you fit in with Byers' new baby? Government plans to increase statutory maternity leave have highlighted provision across the multiples, which all provide a framework that is more generous than the legal minimum. The changes will extend unpaid maternity leave by 12 weeks, enabling new mothers to take a total of up to 52 weeks off work. Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers' proposals are in addition to those in the Budget which gave working fathers two weeks paid paternity leave. Both sets of proposals are due to come into effect in Spring 2003, A spokeswoman for Safeway said the company already ran an enhanced version of the statutory maternity requirements. New mothers employed by the company are given six weeks leave on full pay rather than the legal minimum of 90%. Safeway also gives bonuses to new mothers who return to work early, and it offers career breaks. A spokesman for Sainsbury also pointed to its maternity package which exceeds the legal minimum: "Half of our employees are women, and we already offer an enhanced package, including 14 weeks leave on 90% pay instead of the legal minimum of six weeks." Sainsbury's 10 days paid paternity leave extends to same sex partners." Asda has also risen above the statutory limit in an attempt to keep staff on side. A spokeswoman said: "We go way over what is required because turnover is kept to a minimum." DTI secretary Stephen Byers said that one of the aims of the upgrade was to cut employers recruitment costs. "A third of new mothers do not return to work. If only 10% of those were to return as a result of the increase, then employers could save up to £35m each year in recruitment costs alone." {{PEOPLE MOVES }}