Baby Kaboom

In South Africa, I understand that by law a woman is entitled to four month’s maternity leave from her employment, which may be either paid or unpaid. I don’t know the intricacies of this law, and am thus unsure what kind of female employee (permanent, contract etc) qualifies. In terms of paternity leave in S.A., I believe fathers are entitled to three days of ‘family responsibility’ leave to allow them to bond with their child, learn how to change their kid’s nappy, become accustomed to their new family, and help out their partners who’ve just had a live being ripped from their womb. Erstwhile Minister of Hell (health) and current Minister in the Presidency, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, has declared that this is unfair, and that proper paternity leave should be put into law and be upped to two weeks.

It is different in the U.K. There, women receive nine months of paid maternity leave, and the government has promised that by next year, women would receive a full year of maternity leave. Men receive two weeks of such leave. But the U.K.’s Equality and Human Rights Commission has said that this, in essence, is rubbish, and has called for this to be cut to six months’ paid leave, so that fathers can be given longer paid paternity leave.

The reason for the Equality Commission’s recommendation is what interests me. The group suggests that ‘the focus on maternity leave has entrenched the notion that only mothers look after children, and damages women’s careers by making them less attractive employees.’

Business is also unhappy with the nine months’ leave a mother is given, and one can only imagine how unimpressed it is with the suggestion that they may have to keep open a position for a returning employee for a full year. Is it really viable for businesses to do such a thing in such a tough economic climate? Or is that just the excuse business is looking for to get rid of female employees who have children because of the perception that they would not be able to devote as much excellence to their work as before?

What do you think?

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4 Responses to Baby Kaboom

  1. HotGuy43 says:

    My sister in London is expecting baby number two – and as with the last one, will only have four months of maternity leave at 75% of salary. So where does your nine-month figure come from?

    Given that we’re nearly three months on from last time, we need to do drinks and pizza again one of these days so that you can give me a first-hand update on ‘the workplace’.

  2. Don't Believe a Word I Write says:

    It’s nine months. I didn’t say whether or not it was at full salary, and quite clearly it’s not, but nine months maternity leave it is. Check out these sites for confirmation if you so wish:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/the-big-question-are-equality-laws-backfiring-with-employers-reluctant-to-hire-women-867645.html

    and

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/15b1301e-0f5b-11de-ba10-0000779fd2ac,dwp_uuid=bd2f85d2-8e90-11db-a7b2-0000779e2340.html?ftcamp=rss&nclick_check=1

    As for my workplace, I am no longer speaking about them. Seriously. I will have to find something else to waffle on about, and if you still want to have pizza, we will have to find something else to talk about. Anything else will do, even jazz singing. 😉

  3. Louisa says:

    Mmm, interesting question.

    The fact is that in spite of all the talk about equality, physically men and women are just not the same (thank goodness for compatible body parts!). It makes sense for a woman to get longer baby leave than a man because there is the little thing about breast feeding and also recovering from 9 months of being invaded by another person and the trauma that your body goes through doing it.

    I’m all in favour of dad’s getting some time to bond with their babies too and taking time off to help round the house a bit, while the family gets used to the newest member. But 6 months is a bit ridiculous.

  4. Don't Believe a Word I Write says:

    haha, being invaded by another person. Yeesh, a startling image. And imagine having to hold a position open for a year as a business owner in the UK?

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