Working women know all too well the hesitation, frustration, and micromanagement that come into play while deciding to have a baby. Naturally, maternity policies in their respective countries and workplaces largely affect such plans.
Research finds that paid maternity leaves do not only benefit mothers, but businesses and the economy as well since these policies help keep women in the workforce and reduce their need for public assistance.
How do Arab countries treat maternity leaves? Here's a glimpse:
1. United Arab Emirates: 45 days
As per the UAE Labour Law, "A female worker shall be entitled to maternity leave with full pay for a period of 45 days, including the period preceding and the period following her confinement, on condition that she has been in her employer’s service for a continuous period of not less than one year. If she has not completed the aforesaid period of service, she shall be entitled to maternity leave with half pay."
The aforementioned leave shall not be deducted from other periods of leave.
2. Qatar: 50 days
According to Qatar's Labor Law, female workers in the country are entitled to paid maternity leave lasting for a minimum of 50 days. This includes the periods before and after delivery, provided that post-birth recuperation days amount to a minimum of 35 working days.
3. Oman: 50 days
According to the Omani Labor Law, "A female employee shall have the right to a special fifty-day maternity leave covering the periods before and after delivery with full salary for not more than three times during her service with the employer."
4. Lebanon: 10 weeks
As per the Lebanese Labor Law, working women are entitled to a 10-week paid maternity leave, which includes the periods preceding and following delivery. Women are also entitled to their typical annual leave in the year during which they give birth.
5. Saudi Arabia: 10 weeks
The Saudi Labor Law stipulates that "a female worker shall be entitled to maternity leave for the four weeks immediately preceding the expected date of delivery and the subsequent six weeks."
Payment during maternity leave depends on how long the woman has been employed: "During the maternity leave, an employer shall pay the female worker half her wage if she has been in his service for one year or more, and a full wage if she has served for three years or more as of the date of commencement of such leave. A female worker shall not be paid any wages during her regular annual leave if she has enjoyed in the same year maternity leave with full wage. She shall be paid half her wage during the annual leave if she has enjoyed in the same year a maternity leave at half wage."
6. Jordan: 10 weeks
According to the International Labor Organization, working women in Jordan are entitled to maternity leave with full pay for 10 weeks, which include rest before and after delivery. A minimum period of six weeks after childbirth shall pass before a woman resumes her service.
Following her maternity leave, and during the year after delivery, a female worker is entitled to one hour of paid time off per day to nurse her newborn baby.
Notably, in establishments employing 10 or more workers, every female employer is entitled to a maximum of one-year unpaid leave to care for her child. She has the right to be reinstated at the end of her leave, under the condition that she does not engage in "gainful employment" during that period.
7. Kuwait: 70 days
Pursuant to the Kuwaiti Labor Law, "A pregnant working woman shall be entitled to a paid maternity leave of 70 days, not included in her other leaves, provided that she gives birth within this period. After the end of the maternity leave, the employer may give the working woman, at her request, unpaid leave for a period not exceeding four months to take care of the baby. The employer may not terminate the services of a working woman while she is on such leave or during her absence from work because of a sickness that is proved by a medical certificate that states that the sickness resulted from pregnancy or giving birth."
8. Egypt: 90 days
According to Egypt's labor laws, a working woman is entitled to fully-paid maternity leave for a minimum period of 90 days, under the condition that she has been in service at her current job for at least 10 months.
The leave can be divided between the periods preceding and following childbirth, but a company is not allowed to ask a new mother to work before a minimum of 45 days following childbirth.
9. Morocco: 14 weeks
According to UN Women, Morocco offers 14 weeks of maternity leave at full pay, covered by a national social security fund. Working women are also entitled to an additional year of unpaid leave if so desired.
Moreover, the Moroccan Labor Code includes a fully paid paternity leave for three days.
10. Algeria: 14 weeks
Algeria's Labor Law grants every female worker the right to paid maternity leave of 14 weeks, provided that she has worked at least either 15 calendar days/100 hours during the three months preceding the date of the first medical acknowledgment of pregnancy or 60 calendar days/400 hours during the 12 months preceding the first medical acknowledgment of pregnancy. Maternity pay is covered by the National Social Security Fund.