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Kenya: Buuri MP Seeks to Have Maternity Leave Prolonged

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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 months 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.

LABOUR LAWS

The International Labour Organisation Maternity Protection Convention recommends maternity leave of at least 18 weeks, or four-and-a-half months.

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 maternity leave.

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

BREASTFEEDING

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

The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding of up to six months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with complementary foods up to two years.

Mr Gatobu argues that amendments to the Employment Act will aid working women achieve the goal set by WHO.

Kenya introduced the three-month paid maternity and two-week paternity leave in 2007.

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