M.P. calls for standardised maternity leave

A review to possibly standardise maternity leave benefits between the private and public sector is underway, the Minister of Commerce Industry and Labour (M.C.I.L.) has revealed.

The call was prompted by Falealili West Member of Parliament, Aumua Isaia Lameko, who said standardising benefits would, in fact, save the Government money. 

“To draft one law that oversees both public and private sectors in the future, that’s my advice to the Minister,” said Aumua.

“The reason why I am bringing this up is to save our Government’s money.”

In response, Lautafi, the M.C.I.L. Minister, revealed that the Labour and Employment Relations Act is currently under review and looking into all areas mentioned by M.P. Aumua, saying hopefully it will address all concerns expressed.

Under the Labour and Employment Relation Act 2013, maternity leave is only granted when a woman employee has worked continuously for a period of at least 12 months with the employer. She must also have a medical certificate proving that she is pregnant.

All workers and employers in the private sector including government corporations and state-owned enterprises are covered by this legislation.

Upon confirmation, the employer must grant maternity leave to the female employee for a consecutive period of at least four weeks with full pay and two weeks without pay.

Otherwise, a period of at least six weeks on two-thirds pay of the woman employee’s normal salary is available.

Meanwhile, workers and employers in Ministries are able to be granted leave with full pay for the first 8 weeks and any time thereafter will be maternity leave without pay. The total leave granted shall not exceed 26 weeks.

The twelve months working consecutively under the Ministry prior pregnancy regulation does not exist in the Public Service working conditions and entitlements manual.

According to the Samoa Bureau of Statistics Employment numbers, the March quarter of this year saw job numbers decrease by 0.4 per cent, making it the second consecutive quarter of negative growth since September 2019.

The decline reflects the adverse impact experienced by the nation due to after-effects of the measles epidemic and the initial effects of the coronavirus pandemic, on industries such as accommodation, transport and commerce. 

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