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Senate passes bill allowing six-month paid maternity leave

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.
As per the bill, the leaves policy will be applicable in both public and private establishments in the federal capital. The bill presented by Senator Quratulain Marri  was passed with a majority of votes,  and will now be sent to the National Assembly for debate.
“The employees of every establishment shall be provided six-months 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,” reads the bill.
The bill also provides for additional three-months maternity leave and one-month paternity leave which would be unpaid.
The bill states 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.” It further stated that the early close relationship between father and child has long-term implications.
Addressing the session, Senator Marri lamented that female employees weren’t given maternity leave in the public sector.
Many government lawmakers questioning the bill’s utility as there was already a provision for maternity leaves in the law.
Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar said that there was already a law allowing 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 there was no provision for these many paternity leaves anywhere in the world.
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