A Member of Parliament (MP) from the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Francis-Xavier Sosu, has introduced a private member’s bill in the Ghanaian Parliament seeking to amend the Labour Act of 2003 (Act 651).
The proposed amendment, known as the Labour (Amendment) Bill, 2023, aims to extend maternity leave from the current three months to four months.
Additionally, it suggests an extra two weeks of maternity leave for women who undergo a caesarean section (CS), experience stillbirth(s), or give birth to multiple babies.
The bill also introduces paid paternity leave for men, advocating for a minimum of seven days and a maximum of four weeks, with an additional two weeks in cases of caesarean sections, stillbirth(s), or multiple deliveries of a spouse.
This legislative proposal, titled “parental leave for all,” is designed to provide new mothers with more time for childbirth, exclusive breastfeeding, newborn care, bonding, and postpartum recovery before they return to the workforce.
It also aims to enable men to support their wives and share domestic responsibilities with new mothers.
Mr. Sosu, the sponsor of the bill and an MP representing Madina, expressed the importance of extending maternity leave to support exclusive breastfeeding and maternal recovery.
He also noted the existing maternal mortality rate in Ghana and the significance of enhancing maternity leave to improve the well-being of women.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, Mr. Sosu explained that the bill addresses the absence of specific provisions in Ghana’s labour laws to support women experiencing pregnancy or baby loss.
He emphasized the need for compassionate support during these vulnerable times and touched on the debate surrounding a woman’s entitlement to maternity leave in cases of stillbirth or baby loss.
Mr. Sosu highlighted the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation to extend maternity leave to six months, allowing for exclusive breastfeeding, a notion supported by the Ghana Medical Association.
He emphasized the importance of maternity leave in providing new mothers with the time to give birth, recover, care for their babies, and bond with them.
The bill also addresses the situation of women who sadly lose their babies during pregnancy or delivery, an area where current law remains silent.
This has sparked debates about the fundamental purpose of maternity leave, questioning whether it is exclusively tied to the presence of a living baby or simply the act of childbirth.
In addition to maternity leave, the bill underscores the significance of paternity leave for fathers, allowing them the opportunity to bond with their newborns.
It references a study showing that many countries worldwide offer statutory paid paternity leave and emphasizes the importance of enabling both parents to welcome and bond with their new family members.
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