We need to be allowed to talk about maternity leave

We do need employment law to protect employees from employers’ mistakes, ignorance, bigotry, bad management and bad practice etc etc
As with much legislation, this seems to assume that all the companies to which it applies are large, rich firms.  I have no problem with protecting employees, I have needed that protection myself in the past, but I do have a problem with legislation that imposes a huge cost on a small firm that it may not be able to afford.
Why should a small company be forced to give a year of parental leave? Yes they should give maternity leave of course. But not for a year. The related costs are too high.
Let’s not forget that this entitlement starts the moment that employee turns up for work on their first day. Most other employee protection doesn’t kick in until after a year’s service
Some megacorps may choose to offer this anyway, because it makes them an
attractive employer. Great, all fine and dandy. But it doesn’t work for all companies. The direct effect of losing a member of staff for a year can be catastrophic for a small company. The cost of replacing them with a contractor/temp is not just the amount on the bill. The disruption can be huge.
You can legislate all you want, but you can’t remove all the bad managers tomorrow.  There will always be managers that want someone out because they don’t like them, don’t have the skill to manage them, whatever reason. There are still companies sacking women for getting pregnant, bullying employees they don’t like etc, those big rich firms just pay personnel departments and lawyers to get them out of trouble, sometimes without a tribunal.
Rather than this extreme legislation I’d like to see a basic level and then recommendations and best practice. Firms could then choose the level that suited them, and they could change that level if the company grew.
Firms could advertise their policy, as part of their Comp & Bens, and prospective employees could choose to work there or not. So an interviewer should be able to discuss the benefits offered, and hence discuss the likelihood of pregnancy or (for men) requirement for paternity leave. It has become a taboo and it shouldn’t be.
We choose employers by the company culture, what we know of them, the job, the interviewer, location, salary, benefits offered, package etc. Why should parental benefits be any different?
If medical insurance and gym membership are important to you, then you choose to work for those companies that offer them. Small companies frequently can’t afford those things. Why should extreme parental leave be any different?
Without this flexibility, the unspoken reality is that many SMEs will avoid employing women (and men) that they believe are likely to want parental leave. In seeking to remove this form of discrimination, this legislation has made it worse.