Friday, June 14, 2024

Private sector women get less maternity leave

Discrimination in maternity leave entitlement for working women resulting from inconsistencies between the Labour Act 2006 and the amended Bangladesh Service Rules is a cause of significant concern, according to working women and lawyers.
Non-implementation of the existing laws particularly related to maternity leave and lack of monitoring in the private sector hinder the proper health care for mother and child, they alleged.
The amended Rule 197(1) of Part I of the Bangladesh Service Rules provides for permanent government servants the right to take six months’ maternity leave and the Bangladesh Labour Act provides a worker with the right to take 16 weeks’ maternity leave.
The women employed in the private sector, as a result, are given a third less of the maternity leave than the women permanently employed in the public sector are given.
Most of the working women in the private-sector entities such as schools, apparel industries, practically do not enjoy maternity leaves that they are entitled to.
A teacher at Bangladesh International Tutorial, an English-medium school of Dhaka, told New Age that the school authorities granted any women employee of the school 16 weeks’ maternity leave. ‘Most of the time when a woman becomes pregnant, she does not have any other option but to resign from the job,’ the teacher said.
Section 46 of the Labour Act 2006 that applies only to private-sector employees, however, stipulates that a female worker is entitled to maternity leave for 16 weeks — eight weeks before delivery and eight weeks more after the delivery.
The government is, however, likely to amend the section increasing the duration of leave to 24 weeks, 12 weeks before delivery and 12 weeks more after the delivery.
The labour and employment minister, Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, told New Age that the ministry had taken an initiative to amend the Labour Act as the current section is ‘really discriminatory.’
He also hoped that the amendment would be soon passed and it would help to ensure the right of women working in the private sector to 24 weeks’ leave.
Even if amended, the section will continue discriminating against private-sector working mothers as they will get maternity leave for 24 weeks, which is 168 days, while the women in public sector are entitled to the leave for six months, which is 180 days.
When his attention was called to the matter, the minister said, ‘Female workers in the public sector enjoy monthly wages according to the Service Rules while the Labour Law stipulates setting wages for private-sector women workers based on work hours.’
Lawyers, however, differed with the minister’s observation saying that giving more maternity leave to only one category of women is a ‘serious discrimination against mothers and infants.’
The Bangladesh National Women Lawyers’ Association vice-president, Fahima Nasrin, told New Age, ‘A mother is always a mother. Her needs and those of her children do not vary by the types of work she does.’
Fahima also said that the government needed to ensure a proper implementation of the existing laws along with increasing the facilities for private-sector working women.
She also termed the draft of the labour law amendment ‘a partial initiative not ensuring all working women’s right.… I do not understand why the labour ministry is ignoring private-sector employees.’

-With New Age input

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