Mothers of premature babies lose leave days under current legislation

Mothers of premature babies lose leave days under current legislation
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Women who give birth to premature babies often lose several days of maternity leave as a result of current legislation, but a proposed reform from Member of Parliament Nahima Lanjri (CD&V) seeks to change that.

“Employees are not allowed to take their seven days of prenatal rest after the birth, even if their baby is born earlier than expected,” Lanjri said in a statement.

“I have submitted a bill to eliminate this inequality. Those who want to take this part of their maternity leave must be able to do so.”

Due dates inform prenatal rest, even if they’re only guesses

Workers must stop working and take maternity leave at least one week before the expected date of delivery; however, many children are born several days or even weeks before a predicted due date.

In that case, these employees lose those days of prenatal rest, as they are not allowed to take them after the birth. Self-employed persons, on the other hand, can take the seven days before the actual delivery date after the birth in the event of an early birth.

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“Maternity rest is essential for the protection and health of mother and child. It is neither logical nor desirable for mothers to lose several days of maternity rest when their child is born earlier than expected,” said Lanjri.

“This discrimination must be eliminated. All mothers, both self-employed and employees, must be entitled to 15 weeks maternity leave, even if their child is born prematurely.”

Reforms have support in Federal Parliament

Maternity leave for self-employed workers is currently set at 12 weeks, and Lanjri is separately calling for an increase through another bill, along with more flexible options for maternity leave that include part-time work for the prenatal days.

The proposal is currently being discussed in the Social Affairs Committee and Green and Ecolo co-sponsored it.

Vooruit also supports it, but says the reform can go even further.

“We support these proposals,” MP Anja Vanrobaeys told De Morgen. “But with our 15 weeks of maternity leave, we are now dangling at the tail of the European pack. That may well be extended a little.”

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