Labour and Home Affairs minister, Peter Siele, says that the government has no immediate plans of amending the Employment Act to force private sector employers to pay their employees full salary while on maternity leave.
What the government is considering, instead, is a proposal for an increase in the minimum rate of maternity allowance from 25 percent to 50 percent. The latter forms part of proposed amendments to the Employment Act which are currently being drafted by the Attorney General, Siele told parliament on Friday.
In terms of the Act, women working in the private sector are paid an allowance of not less than 25 percent of their basic pay when on maternity leave.
Through a parliamentary question, Gaborone South MP, Akanyang Magama, wanted to know whether the minister would exercise his legal empowerment to “compel employers in the private sector to pay their employees full salary while on maternity leave as is the practice in the public service and in parastatal organisations”.
Women groups, notably Emang Basadi, campaigned long and hard for the latter to happen.
Siele says that he has no such plans and that doing as Magama suggests would be “too onerous” for small employers, including those who employ domestic and agricultural workers.
“The impact of such an increase will affect employers differently to the extent of being almost negligible for some while for others, notably small employers, the consequences may be negative,” he said.
The minister added that increasing the maternity leave allowance would have “major cost implications” on employers as they are often compelled to engage relief workers to fill the posts of those on leave.