The birth of a baby always brings fun and joy to our lives, not just for the new parents but the whole extended family as well as friends, relatives and colleagues.
Traditionally when a woman gives birth she is entitled to at least six months off. During this period the new mother stays mostly indoors and is not supposed to leave the yard or do any work.
Her meals, laundry as well as that of the little one are taken care of by a helper, who in most cases would be a family member. The current economic climate does not allow for anyone to stay away from work, salaries are paid based on performance and many companies do not guarantee job security thus forcing most women to return to work as soon as possible.
Botswana labour laws allow for maternity leave totaling twelve weeks. Six weeks before and another six weeks after confinement after the employer has been presented with a certificate signed by a doctor, medical nurse or a midwife.
An additional 2 weeks maternity leave may be granted on account of illness arising from her confinement. During maternity leave, a maternity allowance of not less than 25 percent of the employee’s basic pay is paid.
Monica Mothusi is a 35-year-old single mother of three from Gabane, a village outside Gaborone.
A former construction worker, Monica says she is currently unemployed after being told by the site foreman that her position had already been filled upon her return from maternity leave, which lasted for under three months.
Many new mothers are single parents and need full salaries to sustain their families and hence cannot afford to stay away from work while some mothers just don’t see the necessity for staying away from work for long and spring back into action a few days after giving birth.
Mmamontsho, is a single mother of two who works as a cleaner at Moores Roland, she says she just cannot digest the thought of a woman going back to work so soon after giving birth.
“When I had my baby last year, I took time off work for a month before the birth of my little boy then another two after he was born and that’s what all other women should be doing,” she says, adding that she did the same with her first born.
Lorraine Esterhuizen does not share the same sentiments and says the birth of a child should not keep a woman away from work.
“With coloureds, they normally take ten days and they will be fine and I have not heard any complaints so I won’t say that it was too early for the girl to been seen outside the house. It’s about the care that you are in and how you take care of yourself and the little one after birth that should matter, not how soon you leave your maternity bed,” she says.