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Economy

Bill proposes three more maternity leave months

Buuri MP Kinoti Gatobu in Meru town on January 15, 2017. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NMG
Buuri MP Kinoti Gatobu in Meru town on January 15, 2017. He is proposing the law to provide for an option to extend maternity leave by another three months without pay. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NMG 

Working mothers could spend at least six months with their newborns if an amendment to the Employment Act that seeks to increase maternity leave is adopted.

Buuri MP Kinoti Gatobu is proposing the law to provide for an option to extend maternity leave by another three months without pay.

Currently, a female employee is entitled to three fully-paid maternity leave on top of their statutory annual leave.

“The current provision is three months maternity leave therefore an extension of three months maternity leave will be in conformity with international best practices,” the amendment says.

Proponents of maternity policy terms reckon it will help in the recruitment and retention of women at the work place.

The International Labour Organization Maternity Protection Convention recommends maternity leave for at least 18 weeks or four and a half months.

Benefits for working mothers vary

In Uganda, female employees are entitled to 60 working days maternity leave while in Tanzania, one ought to have been an employee for at least six months to qualify for the 84-day paid maternity leave.

In South Africa, the employer is not compelled by law to give female employees paid maternity leave but it demands that they are allowed a four-month break.

The Nigerian Labour Act does not recognise paternity leave but it demands that female employees are given at least 22 weeks (three months) maternity leave.

The United States is among a few countries that do not have a paid-leave law.

This means in the US mothers and fathers go back to work much sooner after birth of a baby than they would like because they can’t afford unpaid time off.

Vodafone, which owns 40 per cent of Safaricom #ticker:SCOM, reviewed its leave policy in 2015 to include a 16-week fully paid maternity leave and a 30-hour week instead of 40 on full pay for the first six months.

In developing the policy, the firm commissioned audit company KPMG to explore the costs and benefits of more generous maternity benefits.

KPMG's analysis found that the cost of recruiting and training new employees to replace women exiting the workforce after childbirth amounted to $47 billion every year.

By comparison, the cost of offering working mothers 16 weeks of fully paid maternity leave would cost an additional $28 billion.

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