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Correct Position on Maternity Leave

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Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare

Introduction

 The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare wishes to correct inaccuracies in an article in The Chronicle of Monday the 5th of November 2018. The writer misrepresented the status quo pertaining to maternity leave.The Minister’s presentation to Senate was on the policy government intends to put in place, which the writer mistakenly highlighted as the current position. The Ministry wishes to point out that the principles that will inform the amendment of the Labour Act [28:01] include proposals to amend Section 18 which provides for maternity protection.

The Labour Act [28:01] currently provides maternity benefits for all female employees in the private sector and quasi-government departments.  Female employees in the public sector are also entitled to maternity benefits as given in Statutory Instrument 1 of 2000, enacted in terms of the Public Service Act [16:04].

While the Labour Act [28:01] allows female employees a total of ninety-eight days on full pay for employees who have served an employer for one year, a female employee who has not completed one year of service with an employer can apply for unpaid maternity leave. A female employee is entitled to maternity leave three times with the same employer, with intervals of two years and should continue to enjoy normal benefits and entitlements.

In addition to maternity leave, a female employee who is a mother to a suckling child is entitled to one hour of breastfeeding, during normal working hours, which may be combined with other normal breaks, and this may be done for the time during which she actually nurses her child, or for six months, whichever is lesser.

Proposed Amendments

 The agreed principles on maternity leave seek to do away with the qualifying period of one year to enable female employees to enjoy the right to paid maternity leave despite their length of service. The principles also seek to remove the limitation of the number of times that a female employee can be granted paid maternity leave. These proposals would align the Labour Act [28:01] with the Constitution which provides for maternity benefits in Section 65

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