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The Labour Rights Institute (LRI) has welcomed the NDC’s manifesto promise to extend maternity leave to four months but cautioned that it may lead to private sector employers not employing women because of the cost implications.

To address this potential problem of discrimination against women’s access to employment, the Institute called for discussion among the tripartite partners in labour on the need for the Government to subsidize the cost of maternity leave to employers through a tax deductible arrangement.

In a statement signed by its Executive Coordinator, Mohammed Affum, the Institute said the extension was an improvement over the International Labour Organization’s Convention 2000 which grants maternity leave of 14 weeks and additional two weeks where two or more babies are born.

The LRI said it is fact that some private sector employers refuse to employ women due to the cost of maternity leave during which, in some cases, a temporary worker has to be employed and paid to do the work of the staff on maternity leave. In other cases, women workers are terminated during pregnancy and re-engaged thereafter subject to the availability of vacancy.

“These practices are unfair as maternity should not constitute a source of discrimination in employment, including access to employment.” it observed.

The Institute called on all stakeholders to recognize that maternity protection measures are aimed at promoting and protecting the health, safety and economic well-being of pregnant and nursing workers and securing equality in employment.

“The body of the woman undergoes changes during pregnancy and childbirth and she needs sufficient time to rest and for the body to heal as well as time to allow for exclusive breastfeeding to babies for their survival and healthy development to replenish labour for productive work,” the Institute added.

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