The increase of maternity leave for women in Antigua and Barbuda is in accordance with Article 4 of the Maternity Protection Convention of the International Labour Organization, Labour Minister Steady Benjamin has explained.
Article 4 of the Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 (No.183) details in part, “On production of a medical certificate or other appropriate certification, as determined by national law and practice, stating the presumed date of childbirth, a woman to whom this Convention applies shall be entitled to a period of maternity leave of not less than 14 weeks.”
The Antigua and Barbuda Labour Code Amendment Bill, 2022, passed in the House of Representative on Tuesday, allowed for the adjustment.
“That is what we are doing here today [Monday] Sir, and as you know, except and unless we amend our laws to make it applicable here, we will still use the same 12 weeks, which clearly speaking has been proven to be unsatisfactory,” the labour minister said.
Minister Benjamin recalled that in the late 1990s, maternity leave was for a period of six weeks, which was then increased to 12 weeks. He acknowledged there are some who are of the opinion that 14 weeks is still unsatisfactory, but the minister gave no indication of a further increase in maternity leave, stating the adjustment is in line with what exists internationally.
“At least Mr. Speaker, that is the median period recommended, and Mr. Speaker, we think we ought to follow suit,” Benjamin told the Lower House.
“This is a society where we think of humanity, where we are governed by international rules and conventions and laws, and our females who procreate…ought properly to be given the opportunity to have their bodies healed and healed properly.”