More discussions needed on maternity leave

Editor, I WISH to respond to Melissa Cyizere for her letter, “Wrong move on maternity leave” (The New Times, April 1).


I WISH to respond to Melissa Cyizere for her letter, “Wrong move on maternity leave” (The New Times, April 1).

I fully support all efforts aimed at facilitating working mothers to enable them juggle work and mothering effectively.

Laws are nevertheless designed to apply across the board to each and everyone. In circumstances where the overwhelming majority of Rwandans work in the informal economy or the rural subsistence economy, with the modern sector employment, including the public sector, accounting for less than ten per cent of national employment and the overwhelming majority of wage employers small and micro enterprises; where do you propose the payroll tax revenues to provide the means to pay for extended maternity leave should come from?

In countries where new mothers are entitled to extended maternity leave (and new fathers sometimes to paternity leave in recognition of gender equality), employers are usually large enough to be able to reorganise work to compensate for absences, or have sufficient financial resources to hire replacement workers during their permanent staff’s absence on maternity or any other leave.

Tax policies have also been returned to reduce the payroll burden for employers who have to continue to pay wages or salaries of workers who are on one kind of leave or another.

But I am genuinely interested to know how you propose a typical Rwandan employer with less than ten workers should be able to provide extended paid maternity or any other leave on strained budgets that always hover around the abyss of financial failure.

Shouldn’t we really cut our coats in accordance with the cloth we have? And isn’t it rather unfair for those in modern well-paying jobs to be demanding for improved conditions when the overwhelming majority of our people are in informal subsistence employment devoid of any social protection?

Again as I noted, I am genuinely interested in us Rwandans having a full debate on this issue.

Mwene Kalinda, Rwanda