The senate recently passed on its 3rd reading SB 10-52, SD1, “The Maternity Leave Act of 2019” which was already forwarded to the House of Delegates for deliberation.

The proposed bill will require all employers both government and private sector to provide adequate time off for the pregnant female employee to bond, recover and care for their baby.  Employers who terminate pregnant female employee contract due to taking time off for maternity will face penalties of up to $5,000.

The bill applies to Palauan citizens and wives of Palauans only.  Non-Palauan employee’s maternity benefits will depend on each individual contract and is not covered by this law.

The proposed maternity leave will include one month of paid maternity leave and another month of unpaid leave. After these two months of maternity leave the female employee has an option to take another month leave without pay.

This bill is said to follow the policy of Promotion of Optimal Infant and Young Child Nutrition Act of 2006. MOH agrees to promote this bill for it supports the wellbeing of mothers and infants along with the life-long health benefits it ensures for both mother and child.

Employers who provide paid maternity leave may also apply the affected employees accumulated annual and sick leave. If the employee does not have any of these than the employer must give employee compensation of 65% of their regular wages.

The period that the employee takes on maternity leave will not affect their anniversary date nor does it take away “full rights and privileges” when returned back to their position.

Employers who do not apply to this will be fined $5,000 to pay the female employee, subject to civil liability of any lost wages along with accumulated sick and annual leave and any attorney fees incurred by the female employee.

At the discretion of the Supreme Court under practical circumstances, the employer may reinstate the female employee with full rights and privileges. (Kerdeu Uong)