KIGALI - The long awaited maternity insurance policy is likely to be approved before the end of this month, according to John Rwangombwa, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning.
The draft policy that is currently in his office will be tabled before the Cabinet for approval before coming into effect.
“It is still a draft, but it is expected to be forwarded for Cabinet approval this month,” revealed Rwangombwa.
According to officials at the labour ministry, the policy which will be merged with occupational health and safety at work policy, will help to reduce possible discrimination against female employees when applying for jobs, and also be merged within the current Labour Law.
“This will change employers’ mindset towards women, whom many assume are less productive, especially when they become pregnant,” said Paul Ruzindana, in charge of regulations and compliance at the Labour Ministry.
According to the officials, some employers are reluctant to employ females because they always assume that they would incur double expenses in filling the void of women employees on maternity leave.
Ruzindana revealed that with the new insurance policy, female employees will continue getting their full salaries and avoid the risk of losing their jobs while on maternity leave.
“As per the current Labour Law, women are entitled to a 6-week maternity leave and in case they wish to extend their leave for six more weeks, they only get 20 percent of their salary,” said Ruzindana.
“So in this new policy women will be able to get back 100 percent even when they don’t come back after their prescribed leave, the 80 percent will be covered by the insurance,” Ruzindana explained.
Both legislations will protect pregnant women, breast feeding women and other employees from working in unfavourable environments or being unfairly dismissed during such times.
“We are very much anticipating the enforcement of these policies; to me, some sense of value of women will be established in various institutions in the country,” said Jeannette Uwera, a public servant who did not want her institution to be named in order to speak freely.
“This policy will give us confidence as women at workplaces, because sometimes during maternity leave, we face the problem of lack of security for our jobs,” Mary Mukabutera, a mother of three said.
Oda Gasinzigwa, the Chief of Gender Monitoring Office (GMO), said the move follows several complaints from women, especially in private sector, that they are mistreated by their employers and are not given maternity leave when pregnant or in need of breastfeeding.
“This new maternity insurance scheme is mostly designed to meet the challenges women face in private sector. It will enable women have ample time to take care of their children,” Gasinzigwa said.
“Actually, we want these new changes to be adopted as soon as possible, not later than this month”.
According to statistics from the GMO, only 14.8 percent of the female population have remunerative employment, 15.7 percent are on wages and 57 percent do not earn any income at all.