The National Assembly voted on May 13 the Employment Rights (Amendment) Bill to extend the duration of maternity leave from 12 to 14 weeks. The second reading was presented by the Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations, Employment and Training, Mr Sudesh Callichurn.

In his address the Minister outlined that amendment to the legislation extending maternity leave by two weeks was being brought so as to better support working mothers in the fulfilment of their family obligations. With the additional two weeks, working mothers will be able to provide more care, love and security to their new-born babies. This measure will also facilitate their reintegration in the world of work, after confinement, he said. Statistics show that in 2014, there were some 207,000 female workers out of a total workforce of 559,000.

Mr Callichurn recalled that Government decision to increase the duration of maternity leave from 12 to 14 weeks is in line with the ILO Maternity Protection Convention 2000. The Convention provides, inter alia, that a woman be entitled to a period of maternity leave of not less than 14 weeks and that maternity leave shall include a period of compulsory leave after child birth.

According to the Minister it has not been possible for Mauritius to ratify the said Convention due to the fact that actually the Employment Rights Act and all Remuneration Orders provide a 12-week maternity leave. The granting of only 12 weeks maternity leave to pregnant women is a major constraint to the ratification of the said Convention. With the current proposed amendment, Mauritius would be able to ratify the Maternity Protection Convention 2000, which is an important instrument to promote equality of women in the workforce and the health and safety of the mother and child.

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