Maternity leave change is a step ahead:paper

ABU DHABI, 30th September, 2016 (WAM) — Any way you look at the issue, longer maternity leave makes sense for a healthy society and workforce, said ‘The National’ newspaper in an editorial today.

The paper said new mothers need time to be with their children to foster bonds that ultimately make societies stronger. Countries around the world recognise this and have incorporated maternity leave into their social fabric.

As we have. And now, Abu Dhabi has given new mothers employed in the public sector three months of fully-paid leave, an increase of 30 days over the previous allocation, The law also provides new mothers the ability to leave two hours early from work to nurse their children for the first year, and new fathers will receive three days off after the child is born. The social benefits of longer leave are clear, but the fact that other parts of employment laws governing part-time and temporary employment have also been changed may not have been apparent to some readers.

The paper explained that when new mothers use their maternity leave, employers will need to find temporary workers. As part of the new law, Emiratis will be able to be hired for part-time positions. The availability of part-time workers is necessary to ensure that offices are able to operate at full capacity and not be affected by any sudden but temporary changes in staff levels. But maybe legislation could extend beyond part-time Emirati employees to include people from all backgrounds? This would expand the pool of people available for maternity cover, making short-term gaps easier to fill.

It continued, indeed, such actual and possible changes prompt consideration of further expanding part-time and temporary employment opportunities. With prudent planning, this would increase the speed at which employees can be hired (and retrenched if the economic environment changes). At the moment, the length of the hiring process is having an adverse effect on the ability of some businesses to maintain adequate staff levels. In short, we need to make our employment laws more nimble in responding to change, whether they arise from maternity cover or economic exigencies.

Longer maternity leave is both an economic and social good with incalculable benefit. The way to look at it is that it forms part of the on-going process of making our human resource environment more adaptive to changing trends and needs,The National concluded.