The Nigerian government has increased maternity leave to four months.
Under the Nigerian Labour Law passed in 2004, a woman working in the country’s civil service has the right to maternity leave of three months, as long as she provides a medical certificate stating she should not or cannot work.
The medical certificate allows her to stay off work for 12 weeks – six weeks before the birth of her baby and six weeks after.
According to a report on Wednesday by The Punch newspaper, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, announced the extension to the leave Tuesday while addressing the plenary session at the ongoing 107th International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
“Nigeria recently increased the period for maternity leave from 12 to 16 weeks to allow enough recuperation time for both baby and mother in terms of breastfeeding,” Mr Ngige was quoted to have said at the conference themed: A future with decent work.
He noted that disciplinary proceedings against any female member of staff during period of her maternity leave shall be put in abeyance till the expiration of the leave.
“Employers of labour are also barred from removal of women from work due to their marital status.
“Illegal labour migration, contract staffing and labour casualisation which affects most women are being reformed through policies and regulations at national, bilateral and multilateral levels.”
The minister also advised women to seek legal action against discrimination and abuses at workplace.
“Women who fall victims to these abuses are encouraged to oppose such through legal actions as well as report to labour inspectors,’’ he said.
He stressed the for appropriate legislation, policies and practices to deal with gender gaps which inhibit greater participation of women in the labour force.
Female employees are entitled to maternity leave with full pay. However, the Nigerian Labour Act does not recognise paternity leave and makes no such provisions.
A bill for an Act to make provisions for optional paternity leave to married male employees in private and public service failed to scale through second reading in the Nigerian House of Representatives last month.
However, Lagos State civil servants are entitled to 10 days’ paternity leave within the first two months of the birth of a baby.