Bill on maternity fund finally goes to Parliament

Parliament has welcomed a draft law that establishes and governs the organisation of Maternity Leave Benefits Scheme, which was yesterday tabled in the House by Dr Uzziel Ndagijimana, the minister of state in charge of economic planning.
A mother at Matyazo Maternity Ward in Huye holds her newborn. (File)
A mother at Matyazo Maternity Ward in Huye holds her newborn. (File)

Parliament has welcomed a draft law that establishes and governs the organisation of Maternity Leave Benefits Scheme, which was yesterday tabled in the House by Dr Uzziel Ndagijimana, the minister of state in charge of economic planning.

The Bill defines the Maternity Leave Benefits Scheme as a social security programme governed and administered by the public institution having social security administration in its attributions.

This means the scheme’s management will be placed under Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) but the draft law says its assets will be managed separately from other social security aspects.

The scheme will make it possible for women to have their twelve-week maternity leave with full salary because employers will pay for the first six weeks, while the last six weeks of the leave will be paid for by the insurance scheme.

Many MPs welcomed the Bill setting up the fund, saying it was long overdue because many Rwandans have expressed the need for such an arrangement to help mothers stay longer at home after giving birth to take care of their new born babies.

“It is good that this law is responding to real challenges. Mothers out there have been wondering if we weren’t here doing nothing about their wish for this fund,” said MP Edda Mukabagwiza.

In the same spirit of supporting the institution of the maternity fund, MP Juliana Kantengwa said the government has finally “responded to the wishes of many Rwandans and mothers in particular.”

Without the fund, working women have been collecting their full salary in the first six weeks of their maternity leave, while they would have to come back to work in the second half of the leave or surrender 80 per cent of their salary.

“Most women on maternity leave would come back to work after the first six weeks of giving birth because most of them couldn’t afford to forego their pay,” Dr Ndagijimana said.

“The Maternity Leave Benefits Scheme will now see women stay home for a total of twelve weeks in order to take good care of their newborns. The law governing the maternity fund aims at enabling the good health of both children and their mothers.”

Under the draft law, “the social security administration will pay a woman monthly maternity leave benefits equal to her net salary based on average remunerations declared for the previous three months.”

While the Bill says both formal employees and employers based in Rwanda will contribute to the scheme, the rate of contribution will be determined by a Presidential Order.

In case an employee has more than one employer, each of them will collect and pay contributions to social security administration based on the salary of the employee.

Officials say the Maternity Leave Benefits Scheme will be operational by the start of the next financial year, on July 1.

At the beginning of the fund’s operation, officials say RSSB will be collecting 0.6 per cent of every employee’s gross salary minus transport allowances with half of the money paid by the employer.

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