(The Malta Independent 01/10/07)
by Ian MeliThe editorial Implementing proposals (TMID, 27 September) is unfair.
To the contrary of what the editorial said, Alternattiva Demokratikas proposal of extending maternity leave to 26 weeks has already been calculated and presented to the Prime Minister. It accompanies other proposals made in the pre-budget stage. The complete document can be viewed publicly on Alternattiva Demokratikas website.
The proposal is the only concrete measure recommended by any of the parties which will enhance womens opportunities to re-integrate quickly in the world of employment.
The employers will bear no financial burden. In actual fact it is much easier to find a replacement for a definite period of six months than a replacement for only three months. Having a longer period of leave available to women means that they will be able to accompany their babies in their most critical moments, the first months after birth.
In addition, having a maternity leave of 26 weeks means that we will be closing down on the EU average which is still superior to that.
A quick look at what the other countries offer to their citizens show that Sweden offers by far the most leave, at 96 weeks. Denmark, Italy, Finland and the UK also have generous provision, where women are entitled to up to 50, 47, 44 and 40 weeks leave respectively. In contrast, Belgium is low, at 15 weeks (still higher than Malta which provides for only 13 paid weeks).
In Eastern Europe, the most generous maternity leave allowance is in the Czech Republic (28 weeks), followed by Poland (26 weeks) and Hungary (24 weeks). Russia has the least, at 20 weeks.
It is unfair to treat women as if Malta is a third world country. No wonder Malta has the lowest employment participation rate among women.
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