Tanzania: Private Firms Censured Over Maternity Rights

SOME female workers from private firms are avoiding becoming pregnant because they are afraid of losing their jobs, a recent Human Rights and Business Survey 2021 Report launched in Dar es Salaam has revealed.

Presenting the report before the media fraternity and human rights stakeholders in Dar es Salaam recently, Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) researcher, Fundikila Wazambi said some interviewed workers noted that one might lose her job if she becomes pregnant.

Describing the 360-page report, the researcher said: "Some of the interviewed workers in Shinyanga and Mara noted that pregnancy usually leads to loss of job, because likelihood of the employer replacing a pregnant worker who needs maternity leave is high."

A total of 2,600 respondents, 1,069 females and 1,531 males were reached during the Human Rights and Business Survey 2021.

The respondents reached in the study were employees/workers, regulatory authority officials, community members, corporate, management officials, bus and truck drivers and local government officials.

He singled out a worker at a private security firm in Mara region who was reportedly fired from her job simply because she went back home to breastfeed her baby.

After the maternity leave, according to regulations, a woman shall be allowed to leave the office for a maximum of two hours of her convenience during the working hours for breastfeeding the child.

However, the Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE) suggests that: "It is good practice for employers to discuss with female employees on the suitable time during working hours when employees can take the two hours to breastfeed."

However, the survey also revealed that nearly half of the workers (48 per cent) said they are granted annual leave, a 14 per cent decline compared to the previous study.

"Complaints about annual leave were aired by workers during interviews in regions such as Manyara, Pwani, Mtwara, Geita Mwanza, Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, and Shinyanga," the researcher, said and added that others claimed that even when such leave is granted, it is not a paid one (leave).

The report revealed further that some respondents from Geita revealed that they were sometimes threatened with losing their jobs when they push for annual leave.

"When asked whether female workers are allowed to take maternity leave, half of the female respondents (workers) said they do. ...... The survey also found maternity discrimination to be an issue at workplaces," he added.

Across all surveyed regions, the researcher added, female workers expressed concern regarding granting of maternity leave, noting that most employers prefer to replace them rather than allowing them time to get back to work after the maternity leave.

On paternity leave, the survey found that awareness about this type of leave is low, as the researchers added "Over half of the interviewed male workers were found to be unaware of paternity leave."

Heralded by the theme 'Taking Stock of Labour Rights, Land Rights, Social Responsibility, Gender and Other Forms of Discrimination, Environmental Rights, and Human Rights in the Business Sector', the report highlighted other areas, including Labour Laws, working environment, remuneration, and compensation for Injury Sustained at Work and right of associations.

Speaking at the report launching ceremony, the LHRC Executive Director, Advocate Anna Henga said the report also focused on Covid-19 pandemic effects in the business sector, specifically on working contracts between employees and their employers.

The LHRC's eight report also focused on the special groups, including bus and truck drivers, whom Advocate Henga said "they are facing various challenges, including long working hours, low wages and work without contracts."

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