15 Sep 2006

Fiji government MP says state not employers should pay for maternity leave

3:04 pm on 15 September 2006

A Fiji government MP and businesswoman has attacked the provision of the Employment Relations Bill granting women workers 84 days maternity leave on full pay.

The Daily Post says Mere Samisoni has told parliament that if the government wants to give women 84 days fully paid maternity leave, then the government itself should bear the burden of the additional cost.

Ms Samisoni, who owns the Hotbread Kitchen franchise in Fiji, has questioned why the government should be telling her as an employer to pay for the 84 days' leave.

She has accused the government of taking away the powers of employers to negotiate contracts with their workers.

Ms Samisoni says it is not right for the government to take away her right to bargain just because the International Labour Organisation says so.

Until now women were entitled to take 84 days maternity leave but were paid only 3-US dollars a day.

Under the new Bill, all women giving birth will be entitled to full pay for 84 days.