Members of Parliament will debate the draft Bill to govern the Maternity Leave Benefits Scheme as soon as possible because setting up the fund remains a top priority for the country, a legislator has said.
Yvonne Uwayisenga, the deputy chairperson of the Chamber of Deputies’ Committee on Political Affairs and Gender, made the remarks during an interview with The New Times last week.
The Bill on the maternity fund will be scrutinised by Uwayisenga’s committee.
In May, Parliament received the draft law that seeks to establish and govern the Maternity Leave Benefits Scheme, which was 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 a public institution with requisite attributes, but MPs have yet to debate it.
The Bill proposes that the Fund’s management be placed under the Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB), but its assets managed separately from other social security aspects.
The scheme will make it possible for women to have their twelve-week paid maternity leave, with the employer paying for the first six weeks of the leave and the fund covering the last six weeks.
Many MPs welcomed the Bill setting up the fund, saying it was long overdue as many Rwandans had expressed the need to enable mothers to stay home for a minimum of 12 weeks in order to take good care of their newborns.
“We have been busy with other issues currently, but the Bill on maternity fund is next on our agenda,” MP Uwayisenga said.
Emma Bugingo, the executive secretary of the umbrella organisation of women associations in Rwanda, Pro-Femmes Twese Hamwe, says Parliament ought to debate the Bill as soon as possible due to its significance.
“We will have to remind Parliament to fast-track the maternity fund framework. We have interest in this law as Rwandans,” she told The New Times yesterday.
Working mothers currently get 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 forfeit 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 could not afford to forego their pay,” Dr Ndagijimana said while tabling the draft Bill in Parliament in May.
Under the fund’s draft Bill, “the social security administration will pay a mother monthly maternity leave benefits equal to her net salary based on average remunerations declared for the previous three months.”
While the Bill says that 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 make contributions to social security administration based on the salary of the employee.