Many expectant employed women look forward to the birth of their little ones, evident by their excited shopping trips to Biashara street, Toi market, online shopping, washing and folding the cute little fresh-smelling clothes, the excitement around decorating the nursery, how they go on and on about their pregnancy journey whilst touching their bellies, the baby shower, comments on Facebook groups… it’s all such a beautiful and delightful experience for many women.
Sometimes though, pregnant mums get so preoccupied by this excitement that they forget to put in place measures for a smooth transition at their workplace when they proceed on maternity leave. Putting in mind that most babies do not come on the exact due date, with quite a significant number making their debut days or even weeks in advance, it is therefore important for all working pregnant women to ensure that they are well covered at their workplace during maternity leave. They need to prepare adequately for the same, especially if baby comes earlier than expected.
Now, via my blog and all the mummy Facebook groups I’m in, I’ve noticed that many pregnant women are always unsure about the exact provision for maternity leave. Many ask: Is maternity leave supposed to be 90 calendar days or 90 working days? Many women are even known to have engaged in bitter stand-offs with their HR’s over the matter!
So I decided to ask Lucy Gacheru, a HR professional to break it down for us so that we can well understand what the provisions are for maternity leave in Kenya, as well as offer us a few tips on how to prepare for this time.
Mummy Tales: Exactly how many days is maternity leave and how is it calculated?
LG: According to the current Kenya Employment Act, a female employee is entitled to three months maternity leave with full pay. This is 90 calendar days (including weekends and public holidays) and not 90 working days. In other words, maternity leave is three calendar months.
It is also important to note that no female employee should forfeit her annual leave entitlement on account of having taken her maternity leave. Her annual leave days remains untouched.
MT: Is there anything in particular she needs to do before proceeding on maternity leave?
LG: She is required to give not less than seven days notice in advance, or a shorter period as may be reasonable in the circumstances of her intention to proceed on maternity leave on a specific date and to return to work thereafter. This notice should be in writing.
It is also important to note that while maternity leave is indeed her right, she should however prepare her employer well -depending on how her pregnancy is progressing. This will not only facilitate better planning, but will also demonstrate her engagement and commitment to the organization.
MT: Is her job secure while she is on maternity leave?
LG: On expiry of her maternity leave, she has the right to return to the job which she held immediately prior to her maternity leave, or to a reasonably suitable job on terms and conditions not less favourable than those which would have applied had she not been on maternity leave.
MT: What about hand-over issues?
LG: The issue of hand over is very important for any employee, and it is therefore of great essence that she plans hers well in advance so that if baby comes earlier than expected, or if there is some sort of medical emergency, then she is well covered and facilitates the smooth running of duties in her absence, thus causing less inconveniences to her colleagues.
One other important thing that I would like to advise pregnant career mums: You must know your employee rights! Don’t be coaxed into returning to work three weeks after birth just because there is a ‘crisis’ in the office. You have every right to be at home with your baby, and no one should force you to return to work before completing your 90 calendar days. Not unless of course you have negotiated and YOU are willing to assist… assist being the key word here. It should be under your own volition to go to the office, and not do so under threats or intimidation. Remember, the law is on your side.”
Hope this information from Lucy Gacheru helps. See more questions and answers at the comments section below. Share this information with all the career pregnant mums you know.