As the main childcarers, women still at disadvantage in workplace

2019-05-08 06:00

DESPITE years of progress and an increased awareness surrounding gender equity in the workplace and society in general, women bare a disproportionate responsibility when it comes to childcare.

This, combined with social expectations and gender stereotypes, is seen to place women at a disadvantage in the workplace, says Muhammed Goolab, executive committee member of the SA Rewards Association (Sara).

“When childcare responsibilities fall disproportionately on the mother, it impacts her career progression and can depress pay. Time spent outside of the workforce and other time sacrifices that are made to care for children deprive women of experience and impact pay and promotions,” said Goolab.

SA’S MATERNITY LEAVE VS THE REST OF THE WORLD

South Africa’s maternity leave policies and benefits stack up well against many other countries.

South African mothers are entitled to four months’ maternity leave and employees who contribute to UIF are also eligible to receive that benefit.

Some companies pay as much as 75% to 100% of a new mother’s salary while on maternity leave and if there is a shortfall, this can be claimed from the UIF.

In contrast, new mothers in the U.S. receive 12 weeks of unpaid leave and no government assistance with regards to remuneration.

The Scandinavian countries lead the way, with up to a year’s maternity leave and 100% pay. Many of these countries also have other progressive policies. In Denmark, for example, fathers can take more than two weeks’ paternity leave.

“In the past, providing better maternity benefits to women was seen as a way of improving gender equity in the workplace.

“Today, however, there is a move towards greater paternity benefits, which is believed to better help bridge the gap,” said Goolab.

Companies generally make their maternity leave policies easily accessible, and while maternity leave is regulated by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, it is a good idea for employees to educate themselves on additional benefits that their employers may offer. “Often companies offer additional benefits beyond those that are outlined in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, although accessing those benefits may require a work-back period,” said Goolab.

What do future-focused maternity leave policies look like?

Goolab believes that HR and Reward managers should take a forward-looking approach when designing maternity leave policies. The maternity leave policies of the future will seek to lessen the effect that childcare responsibilities have on mothers.

“The most effective, future-focused maternity leave policies will be completely untied to gender and they will even encourage a balance between genders. Some companies are looking at alternate leave structures for new parents, such as cumulative maternity leave benefits, progression in the number of leave days where parents need to take care of more than one child and reduced working hours.

“The most forward-thinking and attractive employers will also look at offering mothers returning to the workforce more flexible working arrangements that allow parents to better balance their responsibilities,” said Goolab.

— Weekend Witness

NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.