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Maternity Leave - Should it be extended?

Surfers Respond

While working moms-to-be would say a vociferous `Yes', the employers would not feel wildly enthusiastic about it. And that is putting it mildly. For the work routine would in all probability go haywire, not to mention the inconvenience caused to other co-workers who have to grapple with the extra workload!

Having said this, let us look into this matter from the just-delivered mom's point of view. The 45-day maternity leave is just not enough for her to recoup either from her post-delivery complications or the stress of tending to her just-born (refer news report below). Towards the end of her leave, she also has to look for a good babysitter/ creche in her vicinity (easier said than done!) which just adds to her mental strain.
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How to hire part/full time help
Consult our Paediatrician/Gynaecologist

Gulf News - 24th September, 2000

A growing number of voices is calling for extended maternity leave for working women to match that in other countries. Dr Mohammed Abdullah Al Rokn, Chairman of the UAE Jurists Association has said that the 45-day maternity leave that the Civil Service Law grants female employees is not sufficient for them to take care of their newborn and recover from the exhaustion caused by pregnancy and labour. "In other Gulf countries such as Kuwait, the law grants women employees two months' maternity leave. Egyptian law allows upto two years maternity leave and also permits women to work half the official working hours at their request and for half the salary, which gives them more time to look after their families."

Naeema Mohammed Yehia, head of the Women's Committee of the UAE laments that many women are forced to quit their jobs for the sake of their families because they found it difficult to balance parenthood and work. This resulted in a big loss to the work force.

Dr Aysha Al Roomi, Director of the Sharjah Mother and Child Health Centre reiterates, `The longer the period that a mother stays with her newborn, the longer she can breastfeed on demand and strengthen her emotional bond with her baby, which is crucial for its psychological growth.'

Dr.Al Rokn recommends that working women receive a minimum of three months paid leave, which could be extended for another three months on half pay.
Submit your views

Surfers Respond
Krishna Kumar
Maternity leave is very important. The mother should get good rest and care after the delivery. The mother will be physically weak. 30 or 45 days will not help a mother to recover from childbirth. Moreover, the baby needs breast milk all the time atleast for 3 months. To watch the tired mother going to work after 45 days is brutal to say the least. Maternity Leave of 3 months is absolutely necessary.

Charmaine Saldanha
Firstly, I want to question if there would be any point in airing our views and if there would be any action resulting from this exercise. Yes, 45 days is a ridiculously small amount of time any mother has to adjust to a new-born. New-borns taken anything between 2 months to 6 months and in some cases even a year to fall into the regular day- awake/night-8 hours sleeping pattern. Besides that there is that initial 3-4 months of feeding every 2 hours.
How can one expect a new mother to function properly at her work place, when she on an average get barely 4-5 hours of sleep? Isn't that a bigger loss of productive time at the work place? At the end of 3 months, the baby has at least established some routine that the mother gets accustomed to and can adjust.
As for hired help, it is every mother's nightmare, what if you are the unfortunate one to get a baby-sitter or maid who just does not care for your baby, but is more interested in the money you give her. Can you imagine giving your 45 day old baby to this type of person? 3 months maternity leave, at least is a must, in my opinion. Since the issue always boils down to money when it comes to employers, I agree completely with Audrey Fonseca's suggestions.

Susan Waller, Senior Physiotherapist, Dubai Center for Special Needs
In our contract it states that two weeks of the 45 days must be taken prior to the due date. I have always worked till the due date and prefer that short time to be after the birth, so I think this starting date should not be mandatory.

Audrey Fonseca
We all understand why the 45-day leave is simply insufficient. A balance between the employee and the employer needs to be struck here. I suggest the following: 45 days full paid leave, something like an additional 30 days of 50% paid leave + up to an additional 3-4 months unpaid leave would be ideal (currently there exists a law 6 months unpaid leave only in case of illness and other complications). Or maybe 1/2 day work with proportionate salary would be ideal. A law something to this effect is fair to both employer and employee.
Maternity leave of 45 days is insufficient for a mother to be with her new born baby. The new born needs more time and love to be given to grow up faster,stronger and healthy. Hence it is advisable to grant atleast 90 days leave for the mother to be with the new born.

Terry Kinane
I am 33 weeks pregnant and am resigning from my job at 37 weeks as I feel the 45 days maternity leave is insufficient time to care for my newborn. How can I hand over a one month old child to a baby sitter or creche and feel happy about it? How can I breast feed my child under these circumstances? How can I recover from birth and pregnancy in just one and half months? I feel very angry about this law as it does not consider these issues.

Bhavesh Lodaya, Systems Integration Consultant, Information Technology Services
I certainly feel that the leave should be increased to atleast 60 Days if not more.
How to hire part/full time help
  • You as the employer should have a minimum salary of Dhs 6000 to hire full time domestic help.
  • Prepare to spend Dhs 5000 - Dhs 4800 for the govt. fee, Dhs 100 each for residence visa and labour card of the domestic helper.(Contact the Immigration Department, located near Trade Centre Roundabout,Dubai).This fee and visa is however valid for only one year.
  • All this, in addition to paying Dhs 750 each month as her minimum salary with air fare once every two years.
  • Another option (cheaper too!) would be to hire part-time home help on hourly basis(standard rate is Dhs 20 per hour). You could try calling Home Help-3555100, Maids to Order-3362555, Helpers-3321133 for starters!
By Shanti Kalyaan

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