ISLAMABAD: On Monday, the Senate passed the Maternity and Paternity Leave Bill, 2018, which makes it compulsory for employers to grant maternity leave paid for six months and paternity leave paid for three months.
The bill was moved by PPP Senator Quratulain Marri.
The leaves scheme will be applicable in the federal capital territory, in both public and private institutions, according to the proposed law.
The bill was passed by a majority vote, even as senators in government opposed the move. It will now be sent for consideration to the National Assembly where the government has swept a majority.
It says, “The employees of every establishment shall be provided six-month paid maternity and three-months paternity leave as and when applied by employees, separately from their leave account, commencing from the date as applied by the applicant in the application and supported by a medical certificate.”
In addition, the bill also calls for additional three-month maternity leave and one-month paternity leave, all unpaid.
The allowance for paternity leave helps to provide fathers with the ability to be there at an important time, without the additional responsibility of the workplace and with long-term involvement for the early close relationship between father and child.
Speaking on the occasion, Senator Marri lamented the lack of maternity leave for female employees in the public sector and revealed that women even in the Senate were told not to produce so many children.
Economic Affairs Minister Hammad Azhar opposed the bill and said there was already a provision to grant female employees 90-day maternity leave, while male government employees could take advantage of 48-day leaves in a year.
He proposed that the number of paternity leaves should be reduced to 15 days, adding that there was no need for these many paternity leaves anywhere in the world.
Earlier, Senate Monday was unable to adopt a crucial constitutional amendment bill for the third time (since the House lacked the necessary two-thirds majority), providing for 10 more high court benches to be set up in the four provinces to deal with pending cases and delay in litigation.
This time, however, Chairman Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani asked the Senate Secretariat to write separately to each senator to ensure that the bill seeking to amend Article 198 of the Constitution was passed next Monday by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi as a private member’s bill in the Senate on 29 April.
The bill was on the agenda of the sittings on the previous two Mondays, being the private members’ day, but due to the lack of necessary numbers the House could not take it up. Javed Abbasi, in September, laid the committee’s report before the Senate.
Before the chair gave the secretariat guidance, Senator Abbasi contended that the bill was very significant and people were desperately waiting for its passage considering the massive load on existing courts, and the area-factor was also very large.
The proposed piece of legislation seeks to establish four new high-court benches in Punjab and two in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan each. At the time of tabling the bill in the Senate, PML-N Senator had explained that he was proposing the bill in the light of the lawyers ‘ demand from all over the country and Representatives of different bars made the request during their appearance before the Committee.