The topic of maternity (and in recent times paternity) leave seems to be at the discretion of the employer and subject to his whims. However, Ghana’s labour laws have made provisions for women to be given paid maternity leave for a period no less than 3 months plus the duration of her annual leave. The have been recent conversations about whether the period for maternity leave should be increased to 6 months. So it is evident that the labour laws have Ghana have made provisions for mothers in the workforce; what exactly do the laws say about maternity leave?
(1) A woman worker, on production of a medical certificate issued by a medical practitioner or a midwife indicating the expected date of her confinement, is entitled to a period of maternity leave of at least twelve weeks in addition to any period of annual leave she is entitled after her period of confinement.
(2) A woman worker on maternity leave is entitled to be paid her full remuneration and other benefits to which she is otherwise entitled.
(3) The period of maternity leave may be extended for at least two additional weeks where the confinement is abnormal or where in the course of the same confinement two or more babies are born.
(4) Where an illness, medically certified by a medical practitioner, is due to her pregnancy, the woman worker is entitled to additional leave as certified by the medical practitioner.
(5) Where an illness, medically certified by a medical practitioner, is due to her confinement the woman worker is entitled to an extension of the leave after confinement as certified by the medical practitioner.
(6) A nursing mother is entitled to interrupt her work for an hour during her working hours to nurse her baby.
(7) Interruptions of work by a nursing mother for the purpose of nursing her baby shall be treated as working hours and paid for accordingly.
(8) An employer shall not dismiss a woman worker because of her absence from work on maternity leave.
(9) In this Part
(a) “night work” in relation to women, means work at any time within a period of eleven consecutive hours that includes the seven consecutive hours occurring between ten o’clock in the evening and seven o’clock in the morning but in industrial undertakings which are influenced by the seasons, the work may be reduced to ten hours in sixty days of the year;
(b) “nursing mother” means a woman with a child suckling at her breast for a period of not more than one year.
Source: LABOUR ACT – 2003 (ACT 651)
The laws of Ghana do not set a cap on how many times a woman is eligible for maternity leave;they have been established to provide a reference point for employees to know what rights are protected by the state and use all means to seek redress in the event that their rights are being infringed upon.