Govt to lib­er­alise ma­ter­nity leave

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Harare Metropolitan News - Paidamoyo Chipunza Se­nior Health Re­porter

GOV­ERN­MENT has agreed in prin­ci­ple to do away with the ex­ist­ing one-year qual­i­fy­ing pe­riod for fe­male em­ploy­ees to be el­i­gi­ble for ma­ter­nity leave, Pub­lic Ser­vice, Labour and So­cial Wel­fare Min­is­ter Sekai Nzenza (pic­tured) has said.

She said Gov­ern­ment also sought to re­move cur­rent re­stric­tions on paid ma­ter­nity leave.

Min­is­ter Nzenza said the pro­pos­als would en­able fe­male em­ploy­ees to en­joy the right to paid ma­ter­nity leave ir­re­spec­tive of their length of ser­vice in line with the Constitution.

“Th­ese pro­pos­als would align the Labour Act (28:01) with the Constitution, which pro­vides for ma­ter­nity ben­e­fits in Sec­tion 65,” said Min­is­ter Nzenza.

The Constitution and the Labour Act cur­rently give dif­fer­ent pe­ri­ods for ma­ter­nity leave.

Sec­tion 65 (7) of the Constitution states that “women em­ploy­ees have a right to fully paid ma­ter­nity leave for a pe­riod of at least three months” while Sec­tion 18 (1) of the Labour Act says: “Un­less more favourable con­di­tions have oth­er­wise been pro­vided for in any em­ploy­ment con­tract or in any en­act­ment, ma­ter­nity leave shall be granted in terms of this sec­tion for a pe­riod of 98 days on full pay to a fe­male em­ployee who has served for at least one year.”

Min­is­ter Nzenza said while the Labour Act al­lowed fe­male em­ploy­ees 98 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 was only el­i­gi­ble for un­paid leave.

She said, fur­ther­more, a fe­male em­ployee was en­ti­tled to ma­ter­nity leave three times with the same em­ployer, at in­ter­vals of two years with the same ben­e­fits.

“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,” she said.

Other le­gal pro­vi­sions on ma­ter­nity leave in­clude en­ti­tle­ment to one hour of breast­feed­ing dur­ing nor­mal work­ing hours.

Th­ese hours can be com­bined with other nor­mal breaks.

All ex­pect­ing women from the pri­vate and quasi-Gov­ern­ment de­part­ments are el­i­gi­ble for ma­ter­nity ben­e­fits.

Fe­male em­ploy­ees in the pub­lic sec­tor are catered for un­der Statu­tory In­stru­ment 1 of 2000, en­acted in terms of the Pub­lic Ser­vice Act (16:04).

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