What do you think of this new change in law for Mothers in England ? One year's maternity leave for all mothers regardless of length of time with company 2nd October 2006 A change in the law guarantees all women 12 months maternity leave Women will be able to take a year's maternity leave even if they get pregnant on the first day of a new job, according to controversial new laws. The new rules, introduced on Sunday, were slammed by business groups which fear they will cause chaos for companies around the country. In a further blow, they force firms with less than five staff to keep open a job for a woman who takes maternity leave. Under the old regime, small firms - which find maternity leave more difficult than larger firms - were exempt if a woman took more than six months' off. A spokesman for the Forum of Private Business said: "It leaves small firms open to abuse from employees who start a new job in full knowledge that they intend to take leave early in their employment." The new rules apply to all working women whose baby is due on or after 1 April 2007. Until recently, a woman had to work for a firm for at least six months before she was entitled to take a whole year's maternity leave. On Sunday, this rule was ripped up. A woman can now join a firm on Monday, get pregnant on Tuesday and take a full year's maternity leave. This will create a situation where women who have worked for their employers for less than 12 months then leave to take a year off work. To make matters worse, employers of all sizes are obliged to keep open their job for the whole year. It will benefit around 400,000 women every year, according to the Department of Trade and Industry. Since Labour came to power in 1997, maternity and paternity leave have been made much more generous. The new rules mean all women whose babies are due on or after 1 April 2007 will get nine months' paid maternity leave. For the first six weeks, she will get 90 per cent of her salary. For the remaining 33 weeks, she will be paid about £110 a week. If she takes a full year, the remaining 13 weeks is unpaid. By 2010, Labour wants paid maternity leave to be extended to a full year. Fathers are also getting a better deal. At present, they get two weeks' paid maternity leave at £108.85 a week but this is also due to be increased, possibly to up to 28 weeks. One of the rules, welcomed by businesses, is that a woman must now give two months' notice about her return to work, rather than just one. Bosses had complained that it was difficult to organise cover for somebody on maternity leave who could return at such short notice. Another popular new rule are 10 'Keeping in Touch' days, which allow a woman to go into work during her time off without losing her maternity pay.