It’s time Labor Ministry reviewed laws concerning maternity leave

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Updated 04 May 2013
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It’s time Labor Ministry reviewed laws concerning maternity leave

Scores of women working in both the private and public sectors have demanded that the Ministry of Labor should review the period designated for maternity leave, which is estimated at between 40 and 60 days.
Doctors and gynecologists have unanimously agreed that it is virtually impossible for a woman to resume work after just 40 days of giving birth. They have also stressed the fact that in some cases, such as Caesarean sections, a working woman might need to double the period of rest.
Sara Obeid, an English teacher, said she faced difficulty in her first pregnancy and especially during the postpartum period where she experienced pain, and found it difficult to return to teaching after 40 days as per the maternity and pregnancy leave regulations issued by the Ministry of Labor.
“I tried hard to take a couple of more weeks off but the employer, the directorate general of education in Jeddah, declined my request.”
She added that she had to take about 15 days of unpaid leave. “In normal cases, teaching is hard work, especially when I have to teach around five sessions (each of them 45 minutes) a day. When it comes to a woman who has delivered, it becomes impossible to resume teaching for at least 60 days after giving birth.”
Aisha Al-Harbi, a supervisor at one of the educational supervision offices in Jeddah, told Arab News that the Saudi panel overseeing maternity is not very considerate, as the regulations allow only four weeks before giving birth and 6 after regardless of whether it is a natural birth or a Caesarean section.
She said that all three of her pregnancies were Caesareans with complications, forcing her to stay in bed for about 65 days. “Even though I provided all the medical reports from the hospital to extend my maternity leave period for 20 more days, I was unsuccessful. The only response I could get was, ‘we cannot go beyond the labor regulations’,” Al- Harbi noted.
Lama Murad, an Egyptian executive director at a PR company, noted that the panel should be reconstituted and that the Ministry of Labor ought to deploy female experts. “In my hometown, according to Egyptian labor regulations, a working woman can take up to 90 days paid leave. The period is divided for the duration before and after giving birth,” Murad cited.
Furthermore, regulations here don’t take into account postpartum depression.
Ghadeer Al-Suleiman, a Saudi businesswoman, said the regulations must cover the psychological aftermath in some cases. She recalled that when she was working at the Ministry of Health, she had experienced postpartum depression which, as she described it, was worse than physical pain.
“In fact, I couldn’t return to normal for at least 70 days and I had to shoulder unpaid leave of 30 more days on my own. There was just no way I could go back to work after only 40 days,” complained Al-Suleiman.
Dr. Ahlam Al-Ghamdi, an obstetrics and gynecology surgeon at a local hospital, noted that 40 days is not sufficient for a woman to recover and recommended that the period ought to be doubled depending on the severity of the cases.
“I feel that the time has come for such panels and labor articles to be reviewed,” the doctor added.
According to a recent study conducted by Mercer, a global leader company specializing in talent, health, retirement and investment, Saudi maternity leave regulations have fewer advantages compared to other neighboring countries and developed states.
The study revealed that the six weeks’ leave that is allowed following birth is only half-paid for women who have not completed a working period of three years.
A mother in Saudi Arabia is also allowed two hours of leave daily for breastfeeding for a period of around 18 months, whereas fathers receive only one day paid leave at the time of birth. In comparison, Kuwaiti labor regulations give a female employee a paid maternity leave of 70 days after birth with two hours daily for breastfeeding.
In Qatar, a woman is given 60 days paid leave with an hour for breastfeeding. In Egypt and Jordan, maternity leave is fully paid for 90 days, followed by two hours of nursing, which lasts for 18 months.
The study also revealed that Sweden tops the list for maternity leave rights, where the pregnant employee gets 50 paid days of leave prior to the birth and where both parents are entitled for paternity and maternity leave after birth, equaling 450 days with 80 percent paid salary. In Norway, working mothers get an entire year with 80 percent of the salary.


Leading monitor of crucial events in the Saudi Arabia for 100 years: Umm Al-Qura newspaper

Umm Al-Qura was the first newspaper to be published during the time of Saudi Arabia's founder.
Updated 21 May 2018
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Leading monitor of crucial events in the Saudi Arabia for 100 years: Umm Al-Qura newspaper

  • It was the first newspaper to be issued at the time of the Kingdom’s founder, King Abdul Aziz
  • Al-Ahmadi clarified that the newspaper’s first issue was published in December 1924

MAKKAH: It is considered one of the most important and prestigious Saudi Arabian newspapers. 

It has witnessed crucial decisions in the country, observed the history of the region throughout a century, recording details of life in the Kingdom becoming a reference for historical decisions and events.

Umm Al-Qura’s Editor in Chief Abdullah Al-Ahmadi said the newspaper has the support and supervision of Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Awwad Al-Awwad, who has harnessed all the resources for its modern launch. Al-Ahmadi clarified that the newspaper’s first issue was published in December 1924.

It was the first newspaper to be issued at the time of the Kingdom’s founder, King Abdul Aziz. The headline in the first issue of the newspaper was “The Makkah Declaration,” and this story was accompanied by news and official statements.

Al-Ahmadi said that the paper continued its coverage during World War II, although its presses did stop for a period of up to eight weeks in 1924 before King Abdul Aziz ordered paper to be imported and printing to resume.

Umm Al-Qura’s first editor in chief was Sheikh Yusuf Yassin, who was followed by Rushdi Malhas. Both figures held diplomatic positions during King Abdul Aziz’s reign, along with Mohammed Saeed Abdul Maksoud, Fouad Shaker and Abdul Quddus Al-Ansari.

Al-Ahmadi added that the newspaper has monitored the personal stories of the Kingdom’s kings, giving precise details of the historical and political events of the last century. He added that it has the full Saudi archive and it has become a historical reference for history, the economy and politics.

Al-Ahmadi said the newspaper was a combination of news, sports and social events during 30 years of its foundation. It had adverts on some pages, reflecting the region’s identity and local, economic and cognitive dimensions.

Al-Ahmadi said that with its launch, the newspaper formed the memory, aspirations and ambitions of Saudi Arabia. It was the only media platform in which the world explored the local news, along with the cultural, educational and economic news. 

It covered their advocacy of the crucial decisions — notably the Palestinian cause that Saudi Arabia has defended since the time of its founder.

Umm Al-Qura’s editor in chief said his main concern, along with his former colleagues in the newspaper’s management, was its development and relaunch, pointing out that a number of challenges have been overcome. 

The newspaper has been developed across the board — from layout and content to its brand logo and colors, he said.

Al-Ahmadi added that new and modern printers have been provided, and the newspaper has improved in line with technical and modern changes. 

He said the government also helped restore the back issues damaged by moths.

The operation was carried out by specialized experts who supervised the whole operation to protect the issues from getting lost. All issues were archived online and missing issues are being updated, he added.

Al-Ahmadi said that the newspaper’s website will provide a digital media platform for the documentation process, giving integrated information about the newspaper.

Al-Ahmadi said the newspaper has a website archive for researchers and academics. 

He added that a large number of master’s and doctorate degrees as well as surveys took place with the help of the newspaper that has become a historic reference for scholars and researchers.