EU boost for women

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The Independent Online
European employers will have to meet strict new rules on women's rights and child care, under new proposals issued yesterday by the European Commission in Brussels.

The commission is also determined to outlaw sexual harassment at work, stating yesterday that its efforts to enforce equal rights "will focus mainly on promoting the dignity of women and men at work and in society".

The initiative, proposed by Padraig Flynn, the Social Affairs and Employment Commissioner, will cost about pounds 50m, and is certain to bring new accusation of Brussels interference from British Euro-sceptics. Employers may view the proposals as costly and unnecessary.

The Government, which has the right to opt out from European social policy, is waiting for more details of the planned legislation before taking a firm position.

However, British officials yesterday expressed concern that some equal rights laws could place a heavy burden on employers, having the effect of putting more people out of work. The Government will also scrutinise any legislation to ensure that so-called "subsidiarity" rules have applied.