Failing to pass the maternity leave in the 10th Olbiil Era Kelulau, Senate has once again proposed a bill to provide for “one month paid leave and one-month unpaid leave to employees who give birth, who adopt, or whose spouse gives birth to a new child” and impose penalties on employers who penalize employees for using their leave time.

The bill also calls for all employers to provide paid annual leave of no less than 12 days per year to an employee that has worked six consecutive months for the employer.  The accrued leave may be taken away at the end of the calendar year if it is not used.  According to the bill, the employer cannot penalize the employee for applying for leave or who returns from leave.

Called “The Employee Leave Act of 2022”, the bill findings state that “it is important for the development of children and family unit that fathers and mothers be able to participate in early childrearing and care of family members who have serious health conditions.” Further, it says, “the lack of employment policies to accommodate working parents can force individuals to choose between job security and parenting.”

Therefore, the bill seeks to “entitle employees to take reasonable leave to care for themselves and their families, balance demand of workplace with the needs of families, promote the stability and economic security of families and to promote national interests by promoting the integrity of the family unit.”

Despite its high goals, the bill only applies to employers that employ more than five full-time employees and have an annual gross income in excess of five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000).

The same applies to sick leave, an employee is given no less than 12 days a year, but this only applies to employers with over half a million of gross income with more than five employees.

The one-month paid leave and one-month unpaid leave provided for maternity leave are in addition to the accrued annual leave and sick leave.

Palau national government and state governments have annual and sick leave provisions but no maternity leave.

Private sector employees have no mandated annual leave, sick leave or maternity leave, although government regulations mandate a five-day sick leave for all foreign contract employees.

If passed as is, this bill will require employers with over $500,000 in income and more than five employees to provide annual, sick, and maternity leave to all employees who have worked for them consecutively for six months.

The bill, introduced by Senator Rukebai Inabo, passed its first reading and has been assigned to Health & Social Welfare Committee.

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