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.


The Color Run debuts in KSA’s Eastern Province

Updated 18 March 2019
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The Color Run debuts in KSA’s Eastern Province

  • ‘The Happiest 5k on the Planet’ combines ‘fun, exercise and charitable giving’ during the Sharqiah Season
  • The Sharqiah project aims to deliver an extensive entertainment experience for both Saudis and visitors to the Kingdom

JEDDAH: For the first time in Saudi Arabia, The Color Run is coming to Sharqiah Season, which features more than 80 events in Eastern Province cities, and is the first of 11 scheduled festivals planned throughout the Kingdom in 2019. 

Sharqiah Season is a collaborative effort by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), the General Culture Authority and the General Sports Authority.

The countdown is on for The Color Run, which takes place at the South Alkhobar Corniche on Saturday.

In this untimed 5-km event, runners — who start in white — are doused with various colors at every 1-km checkpoint.

Since its inception in 2012, The Color Run has seen more than 7 million participants in 40 countries, while donating more than $5 million to charities. 

Organized in line with the GEA’s efforts to attract top entertainment offerings to Saudi Arabia, “The Happiest 5k on the Planet” will make its mark on the Kingdom as part of this year’s worldwide “Color Run Hero Tour,” with 15,000 participants expected in each city.

The non-competitive run is not only an opportunity to create picture-perfect memories, but serves as a celebration of health, happiness and individuality. 

The GEA is supporting the event as part of its continued efforts to enrich the lifestyle of residents and citizens in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan and the Quality of Life Program 2020.

The Color Run was hosted in the UAE twice in 2018, with massive crowds attending and cheering the runners. 

This year, the main theme is celebrating the hero in you, where nothing is impossible. Once the run is over, the fun will continue at the Finish Festival, a larger-than-life celebration with music, photo ops, activity booths, vendors, and more massive color throws.

“We are thrilled to be bringing The Color Run to Saudi Arabia. Its vibrancy matches the aims of the GEA and the Quality of Life Program 2020 objective to support and create new options that boost participation across cultural, entertainment and sports activities,” said the GEA’s Chief Operating Officer Sultan Al-Faqir.

“The Color Run, being held in our three biggest cities, will provide an exciting opportunity for thousands of families to engage in a healthy activity that combines fun, exercise and charitable giving.”

The Sharqiah project aims to deliver an extensive entertainment experience for both Saudis and visitors to the Kingdom.

The festival features events in Eastern Province cities, including Dammam, Dhahran, Alkhobar, Al-Ahsa and Jubail. Future seasons will focus on different areas of Saudi Arabia, with different entertainment options for each city. Upcoming seasons will focus on different areas, and also different parts of the year, such as Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.

"The Happiest 5k on the Planet" will make its mark on the Kingdom as part of this year’s worldwide ‘Color Run Hero Tour,’ with 15,000 participants expected in each city. (Photo Supplied)

Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, said in a statement that  the organization’s participation in the festival aligns with its goal of improving the quality of life in the Kingdom, and discovering local talent in various entertainment industries.  He also highlighted the importance of the entertainment sector and its contribution to the economy and the creation of jobs for locals, all important aspects of Vision 2030.

The opening night of Sharqiah Season on Thursday drew crowds of Saudis to the Alkhobar Corniche, despite strong winds and sprinklings of rain earlier in the day. Groups of friends stopping to take selfies and families with young children in tow wandered through the Entertainment Boulevard, lined with food stalls selling karak and koshari.

Earlier in the day, the mega event began with the opening of an exhibit featuring the work of Leonardo da Vinci at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra). 

The exhibit showcased some of Da Vinci’s original sketches, with several screens showing videos detailing how his designs have continued to inspire scientists and inventors in the modern era.

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Sharqiah Season continues until March 30, with upcoming weekends featuring sports events such as the Red Bull Air Race and the Formula 1 H20 boat race, as well as concerts in Dammam featuring Akon, Deadmau5, Pitbull and French Montana.