Its proposals, which must now go for approval by the EU countries, include 20 weeks full maternity pay and rules employers will be banned from dismissing pregnant workers until six months after the end of their maternity leave.
The measures propose women must not be obliged to perform night work or work overtime during the 10 weeks prior to childbirth, during the remainder of the pregnancy in cases where the mother or the unborn child have health problems, and during the entire period of breastfeeding.
Jim Lister, head of employment law at Manchester law firm Pannone, said at present employer should not worry about the EU decision.
He said: "In reality, the extension of paid maternity leave to 20 weeks full pay is unlikely to be a major concern as UK employers currently recover some or all of the statutory maternity payments they make from HMRC. It would be of more concern if the UK Government were to change its policy on SMP and require employers to self fund 20 weeks maternity leave on full pay."
"It is not clear if the proposed ban on dismissal during pregnancy, maternity leave and for six months after maternity leave is intended to be a total one.
"I image that it will be subject to exemptions, as it is difficult to see how it would work in practice otherwise e.g. should an employer really be prevented from dismissing an employee who has been caught stealing merely because she is pregnant?"
This article was first published on hrmagazine.co.uk