The government of Rwanda has submitted a bill in parliament that sets up a national fund which will cover full monthly pay for working mothers during maternity leave.
Every employee, either private or public will be required to surrender 0.6% of their salary to contribute to a mother’s pay on maternity leave, says the bill. Companies or state agencies will carry 50% (0.3%) of the cost.
Salaries will be deducted by the employer through the existing Social Security Fund (RSSB), regardless of the type of contract or size of the salary.
The director general of RSSB, for example, would contribute Rwf 8,000 ($12) from the Rwf 2.7m ($3,913) gross salary. A primary teacher earning Rwf40, 000 ($60), would contribute Frw126 ($0.2).
Even Government employees in categories, such as single and married people, nuns, priests, politicians, civil society and international organizations and embassies, are not exempted.
According to the existing law, a maternity leave is 12 weeks. In the same law, a mother is paid her full salary during the first half of her leave.
For the second half, she has to surrender 80% of her salary, or return to work.
With the proposed bill, the employer will pay half the salary while the fund covers the remaining half.
Public Service Minister Judith Uwizeye, whose ministry is behind the new fund, said it will allow mothers to stay home much longer during the time babies need them most.
“To all employers, you do not want to be seen as an obstacle to the well-being of mothers,” she said on KTRadio, a KTPress sister company, on February 13.
“It is not a burden to us,” says Ritesh Patel, Chief Finance Officer of Utexrwa Ltd, a textile factory in Kigali. “Provided that when a mother comes back, she delivers to the company expectation.”
The firm has 450 employees, and 300 of them are women. It pays workers Rwf 40M ($57,932) in salaries every month.
The day the new maternity fund will be operational, they will be contributing Rwf 120,000 ($174) monthly.
Claudine Kaze, a civil servant chose to forego 80% of her salary to take care of her baby girl last year. She says: “I wish the bill can be passed tomorrow.”