Rwanda: Why AC Group Increased Maternity Leave for Employees to Five Months

26 November 2020

While some employers may be wary of hiring young women for fear that they will be away from work during maternity leave, AC Group, a Rwandan technology company, is offering their employees five months paid maternity leave.

This is, among other things, underpinned by the belief that there is a lot that goes with growing a career and being a parent at the same time.

With an aim to be supportive to young parents (majority of staff at the company are young) the firm has endeavoured to support working parents in a variety of creative ways.

The Rwandan technology company involved in smart transport solutions has extended paid maternity leave to five month from the ordinary recommended three months.

Under the current legal framework in Rwanda, a female employee is entitled to a paid maternity leave of 12 consecutive weeks or three months (including two weeks they may take before delivery).

By allowing their employees up to five months of paid maternity leave, AC Group is in the same league (and ahead in some instances) with global tech giants such as Amazon (five months), Microsoft (5.5 months), Google (five months), Adobe (six months) and IBM (five months) which have been termed as global leaders in the aspect.

The firm says that such benefits can supplement the efficiency of workplace policies and at the same time allow workers to reconcile work and family life.

Nicola K Magera, their Chief People and Culture Officer at the firm said AC Group as a people-centred organisation is promoting a culture that recognises every parent as a key player in a child's upbringing.

"This means giving parents time off to take care of their new-borns and to spend quality time with their children," she said.

She said that paid maternity leave does not only benefit the employee, it is great for the organisation noting that it can boost morale and productivity as well staff retention.

She observes that mothers who receive adequate maternity leave are more likely to not only return and stay with the organisation but also come back to work motivated and ready to deliver.

"A strong maternity leave policy can also attract the right employees and with talent at a premium, every benefit an employer provides improves their chances of hiring the best quality candidates. This in turn reduces the high cost of turnover and the associated training costs for new hires," she said.

For a company to establish such a policy, Magera highlights that it takes willingness and being intentional to create a culture that is best for your organisation and its people.

"Teamwork also matters, whenever an employee is away for long or short periods of time, his or her team provides the necessary support and shares the workload as far as this is possible," she added.

Studies across the world show that family leave policies can help companies retain women, a key aspect for the tech industry which has been said to have challenges with gender diversity.

Maternity leave has among other things been found to have benefits such as health of children and mothers, decreases infant mortality, and promotes higher worker morale and retention.

Rwandan employers have been constantly urged to look into ways to improve workplace welfare including aspects such as maternity leave.

The call to action is also buoyed by a 2016 law establishing and governing maternity leave benefits scheme and the promulgation of the Ministerial Order of October 28, 2016 relating to maternity leave benefits scheme.

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