Bill raising maternity benefits passes through to second reading
Members of the lower house have sent two draft amendments by the Social Democrats through to a second reading, raising maternity benefits to earlier levels and reintroducing payments for individuals caring for family members on the first three days of sick leave. The right-of-centre Civic Democrats attempted to reject both proposals but were short of votes, backed only by a number of unaffiliated deputies and several Christian Democrats. The approval of the amendments was preceded by almost four hours of heated debate. Prior to the vote Prime Minister Jan Fischer and Finance Minister Eduard Janota warned deputies not to pass the amendments. Mr Janota said that raising maternity benefits had been problematic even back in 2006, when the economy was robust, while the prime minister warned against a further deepening of the country’s debt.