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UAE maternity leave needs addressing
Compared to other countries, it is paltry. The UAE law on maternity leave needs addressing, thinks Sam Potter, and not just to boost the Emirati population.
July 29, 2010 2:26 by kippreport
An article in Gulf News this week made a welcome call, even if the justifications were not necessarily correct, in my opinion.
The paper reports that a member of the UAE’s Federal National Council, Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, head of the Committee of Education, Youth Culture and Media, has said the maternity leave law must be reconsidered to encourage more Emiratis to have children.
“The number of Emiratis is not going to grow,” she said. “This is due to the fact that the mortality and birth rates in the UAE are equal, and while population increase is encouraged, it won’t happen unless birth rates rise.” She wants a complete reconsideration of the UAE law regarding pregnant women and maternity leave.
Until 2007, the law in the UAE granted a woman two months’ fully paid leave, two months of half salary leave, and two months’ unpaid leave. Then the current law emerged. It allows a woman 45 days paid maternity leave and then 18 hours per month for lactating purposes.
“When the law came out, no women’s organisations were consulted; in addition, it has been modified so maternity leave is reduced,” said Dr Amal. “Considering that 53 per cent of the federal organisation’s workforce is women, it doesn’t seem right.”
And she’s correct – it isn’t right. But not simply because changing the law might help increase the Emirati population (though I concede this is one of the areas in which the FNC must take an interest) but because it would be better for society as a whole to be more generous to new mothers; better for the women, better for the children, and quite possibly better for business too.
Writing as someone who has known a few pregnant women working in the UAE, I know what the outcome of the current maternity law is. The women leave to have their babies, telling their employer that they will return after 45 days. When the days are up and her salary has been paid, the woman announces she has changed her mind and will not be returning. And why would she? A new born baby needs more than six and a half weeks with its mother.
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