The Senate deferred on third reading the bill that proposes to protect the employment of women who are pregnant or had just given birth to a child while being away from work due to birth-related reasons.

The Senate Committee on Youth and Social Welfare, in a letter dated April 10, 2018, said that it is appropriate to give pregnant women the opportunity to maintain their employment while being away from work due to pregnancy and birth-related absences.

Through the same letter, the committee expresses their support on “the spirit of the bill” but emphasized that certain clarifications on its proposed provisions should be incorporated “to ensure a cohesive policy equitable to all employees and employers alike.”

The bill aims to encourage employers to give pregnant women adequate maternity leave after birth to be able to bond with and care for their newborn children.

“The Olbiil Era Kelulau finds that the one month of maternity leave required to be provided by the National Government to its female employees, and the lack of any maternity leave requirement for private employers, denies female employees a reasonable opportunity to maintain employment while pregnant, recovering from pregnancy, or caring for a newborn child,” the bill’s legislative findings read.

If the bill is pushed to become law, all public or private employers in Palau will be required to give a one-month paid maternity leave and another one-month unpaid maternity leave to pregnant women. Other than that, the bill also provides another optional month, on top of the two-month leave, for pregnant mothers to take but this is without a pay.

“The period of maternity leave with pay shall not change the employee’s service anniversary date. Upon completion of such leave, female employees shall be entitled to return to their positions with full rights and privileges as if they had never taken the maternity leave,” the bill reads. (Rhealyn C. Pojas/Reporter)