October 28th, 2020 

By Rehan Piracha 


LAHORE

A first-ever law on allowing 30-day leave for expecting fathers on the birth of a child has cleared another hurdle after approval from the National Assembly committee on law and justice. The Maternal and Paternal Leave Act 2020, moved by Senator Qurutlain Marri, has been passed by the Senate on January 27, 2020.

The bill will now be tabled in the National Assembly for a vote. If the assembly members approve the bill with a majority vote, the bill will be enacted to the extent of the federal capital territory. Speaking to Voicepk.net, Senator Qurutlain Marri says the bill is the first-ever law on paternity leaves in the country, adding that she hopes that the provinces will follow with similar legislation for paternal leaves.

Marri says the legislation was debated and vetted for about a year and a half. The National Assembly committee on law and justice has approved the bill without any amendments, she added. Marri credited her sister Shazia Marri, Member of National Assembly, for her efforts in getting the bill passed by the NA committee. “You are my shining star! No way were these bills getting through the NA committee without a fight. You batting in their corner is what made this possible. Such public interest issues deserve legislation. Let’s hope govt benches support social issues too,” Marri tweeted in response to her sister’s tweets congratulating her on the bills.

What’s in the bill?

Paternal leaves

According to the bill, a male employee of the federal government or that of a private company based in Islamabad Capital Territory will be allowed 30-day leave with full pay on the birth of a child. Such paternal leaves will not be out of the leave account of the employee. The employee can avail paternity leaves on the birth of three children maximum.

Maternal leaves

A female employee can avail maternal leaves up to 180 days on first birth, 150 days leave on second birth, and 90 days on the third birth, according to the bill. The maternity leaves will not be part of her leave account. On the subsequent births, the female employee can avail leaves as admissible in her leave account or avail leaves without pay under the bill.

Six-months imprisonment, fine

Any person who contravenes any provision of the bill can face imprisonment of six months maximum or a fine of 100,000 Rupees or both under the legislation.

In her statement attached to the bill, Senator Qurutlain Marri says research suggests that enabling fathers to look after their new born children has positive knock-on effects. The early close relationship between father and child has long-term implications, she says. The bill seeks to provide fathers the opportunity to be there at a crucial time without the added responsibility of the workplace, she concludes.

 

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