This Monday, the Senate passed the Maternity and Paternity Leave Act. While Article 37 (e) of the Constitution ensures maternity benefits for women in employment, there are currently no provisions for expectant fathers.
Moved by Senator Quratulain Marri of the PPP, the legislation addresses this concern. It also increases the duration of paid maternal and paternal leave.
Mothers receive 180 days of paid leave for the first child, 120 for the second and 90 for the third. Fathers will receive a total of 90 days of paid paternal leave throughout their service, which they can avail 3 times. According to the Act, maternal and paternal leaves are separate from other leaves.
The aims of the Act are to facilitate expectant mothers to fulfill obligations of motherhood without having to compromise on their professional growth. It also hopes to promote healthier familial relationships by allowing fathers the opportunity to attend to the needs of the mother and newborn without the burden of work.
Not Without Opposition
The passage of the Act was not without opposition from the government. Senator Hammad Azhar of the PTI opposed the legislation, claiming the leaves were extraordinarily long.
However, several countries offer extensive maternity and paternity leaves to expectant or new parents. Pakistan’s neighbor, India, extended its maternity leave to 12 to 26 weeks. After Canada and Norway, India has the third longest paid maternity leaves in the world.