Monday May 27, 2024

Despite govt senators’ opposition: Senate passes Maternity, Paternity Leave

By Mumtaz Alvi
January 28, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Monday passed the Maternity and Paternity Leave Bill, 2018, which makes it mandatory for employers to grant six-months paid maternity leave and three-months paid paternity leave.

It was moved by PPP Senator Quratulain Marri. According to the proposed law, the leaves policy will be applicable in both public and private establishments in the federal capital territory. The bill was passed with a majority of votes, even as government senators opposed the move. It will now be sent to the National Assembly for deliberations and consideration, where the government enjoyed majority. It says, “The employees of every establishment shall be provided six-month paid maternity and three-months paternity leave as and when applied by employees, separately from their leave account, commencing from the date as applied by the applicant in the application and supported by a medical certificate.” Besides, the bill also provides for additional three-month maternity leave and one-month paternity leave, both of which would be unpaid.

The provision for paternity leave seeks to provide fathers the opportunity to be there at a crucial time without the added responsibility of the workplace and that the early close relationship between father and child has long-term implications.

Speaking on the occasion, Senator Marri lamented that female employees weren’t given maternity leave in the public sector and revealed that even in the Senate women were told not to produce so many children.

Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar opposed the bill and said that there was already a law to give 90-day maternity leave to female employees, while male government employees could avail 48-day leaves in a year.

He suggested lowering the number of paternity leaves to 15 days, adding that nowhere in the world was there a provision for these many paternity leaves.

Earlier, the Senate Monday for the third time could not adopt a key constitutional amendment bill, (as the House lacked the required a two-thirds majority), envisaging establishment of 10 more high court benches in the four provinces for dealing with pending cases and delay in litigation.

However, this time, Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani asked the Senate Secretariat to write separately to each senator to ensure presence next Monday for the passage of the bill, which seeks an amendment to Article 198 of the Constitution, was tabled by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi as a private member’s bill in the Senate on April 29, last year, and Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani had referred it to the House Standing Committee on Law and Justice despite, having been opposed by the government.

The bill has been on the agenda of the sittings on the previous two Mondays, being the private members day, but the House could not take it up due to the lack of required numbers. The report of the committee was laid before the Senate by Javed Abbasi in September.

Before the chair gave directions to the secretariat, Senator Abbasi contended that the bill was very important and people desperately awaited its passage in view of massive load on existing courts and the area-factor was also very important.

The proposed piece of legislation seeks setting up of four new high court benches in Punjab and two each in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well as Balochistan. At the time of tabling the bill in the Senate, PML-N Senator had explained he was presenting the bill in the light of the demand of the lawyers from all over the country and that the demand was made by the representatives of various bars, during their appearance before the committee.