Maternity leave now for six monthsAdmin
The government on Tuesday extended the period of maternity leave to six months from the existing four months.
The finance ministry issued a gazette notification amending Rule 197(1) of Part-I of the Bangladesh Service Rules extending the maternity leave with effect from January 9.
According to the amended rule, a female government servant will be entitled to maternity leave twice during her service.
The extended maternity leave, however, will not be applicable to the female officers or workers working in private sectors.
Institute of Public Health and Nutrition director Fatima Parveen Chowdhury said that extension of maternity leave would allow working mothers to breastfeed their children for six months.
The same provision should be applied to all working mothers, including those engaged in private and informal sectors, she said.’ If the extended leave is not made applicable to the private sector, we would appeal to the government to do so.’
The amended rule, which replaced the existing one, says, ‘When a female government servant applies for maternity leave, the authority mentioned in Rule 149 or Rule 150 as the case may be, shall grant such leave for a period of six months from the date of the commencement of the leave or on her confinement for the purpose of delivery, whichever is earlier.’
The period of maternity leave was extended in response to demand from different sectors.
Earlier on August 2, 2009, while inaugurating the World Breast Feeding Week, prime minister Sheikh Hasina said that the government had taken steps to extend the duration of maternity leave.
Most female workers do not get the statutory current minimum four months of maternity leave.
The Bangladesh Labour Act 2006 stipulates that a female worker can enjoy maternity leave for eight weeks before delivery and another eight weeks after delivery.
Working mothers still face problems with their newborn babies as most of the offices in the public and private sectors do not grant them maternity leave.
‘Most private offices do not grant maternity leave properly,’ said Kohinoor Mahmood, project coordinator of Women Workers Development project of the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies.
According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, there are about 1.21 crore working women in the country and more than 97 lakh of them are engaged in the informal sector which are outside the labour law.
Garment Workers’ Unity Forum finance secretary Shahidul Islam Shabuj told New Age last month that in his view less than one per cent of garment factories grant female workers maternity leave with pay in accordance with the Labour Act.
‘Most of the women who work in the garment sector have their jobs terminated during pregnancy,’ he said.
The so-called ‘temporary’ government servants are also deprived of maternity leave in violation of the Bangladesh Service Rules.
Rule 197(2) of the Bangladesh Service Rules, stipulates, ‘Maternity Leave as admissible under sub-rule (1) may also be granted to a temporary government servant provided that she has been in government service for at least nine months immediately preceding the date of delivery.’
‘Temporary female workers, even though they have worked for a long period of time at a particular job, are denied maternity rights. Even the government offices such as Titas, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha, Public Works Department and city corporations do not provide the facilities to their female staff,’ said Kohinoor.
Titas Gas managing director Md Abdul Aziz Khan on December 2010 admitted to New Age that women working temporarily in Titas Gas did not get maternity leave.
Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha member (administration and land) said that as temporary workers were appointed on a daily basis, the government rules for leave, including maternity leave, were not applicable to them.
Labour experts welcomed the new government initiative but pointed out that only the women working under Bangladesh Service Rules would get the extended leave – excluding those who work under the Labour Act.
They urged the government to provide all working mothers, including the informal sector workers, with the same rights.