Rwanda: ILO welcomes the launch of a new maternity leave benefits scheme

The International Labour Organization (ILO) welcomed Rwanda’s decision to provide paid maternity leave and health benefits by law, which offers better protection for working women who become pregnant and are often confronted with the threat of job loss or suspended incomes.

Press release | 17 November 2016
Dar es Salaam (ILO News) – The International Labour Organization (ILO) welcomed the introduction of a maternity leave benefits insurance scheme in Rwanda to compensate all female employees absent from employment because of pregnancy, giving birth and subsequently caring for the new-born child.

Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) recently announced that the maternity leave benefits insurance scheme introduces 12 weeks of fully paid leave during which a monthly compensation equivalent to the mothers last salary shall be given.

According to provisions of the Law No. 003/2016 establishing and governing maternity leave benefits scheme, “the employer declares and remits collected contribution to the Social Security Administration not later than fifteenth (15) days of every month following the month of contribution” implying that the deadline for paying contributions by employees for the month of November will be 15th December 2016.

With the new maternity leave benefits regime, mothers will no longer face the hard choice of either completing two weeks of leave and lose 80% of their family`s income or return to work after 6 weeks to keep their income, as was the case before.

This is a new social security scheme, whose establishment is part of Government of Rwanda`s commitment towards empowering women to physically recover, care for the new born and avoid maternity to become barrier to their contribution to the national development.

Maternity benefits is one of the nine minimum standards contained in the ILO convention No. 102 (1952) on social security (minimum standards), others being medical care, sickness, unemployment, old age, employment injury, family, invalidity and survivors benefits.

Convention No. 183 (2000) on maternity protection, requires that cash benefits to be paid to the woman on maternity leave shall be at a level which ensures that the woman can maintain herself and her child in proper conditions of health and with a suitable standard of living.

According to the law, monthly contributions to the scheme managed by RSSB shall be 0.6% of the employee’s gross salary, both the employer (public and private) and employee shall contribute to a tune of 0.35%.

Background

A recent ILO study recommended, among others, that a scheme to finance maternity benefits be a compulsory social insurance fund, supported by contributions from both male and female employees and employers.

The goal of the maternity protection legislation is to enable women combine their reproductive and productive roles successfully as well as eliminate discrimination against women in the labour market today marked by gender inequality.