Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Maternity leave? More like a small break...

Every single time I come down to Brazil I hear the same thing over and over and over again: when are you having a baby?
My answer? Allow me to quote the lyrics to a song written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans and made popular by Doris Day back in the good old days: ‘Que será, será, whatever will be, will be, the future’s not ours to see, que será, será, what will be, will be…’
What I do know for sure is that the laws on maternity leave and pay in Brazil are way more inviting than the ones offered to Moms in the UAE.
I was having a quick chat with my sister-in-law, who just gave birth to the cutest little baby girl in the whole wide world, my niece, and she told me that in Brazil law entitles women to four months of paid maternity leave, but that some companies, like the one she works for, offer even more: six months. That’s a total of 180 days!
Now, here’s what she’d get in the UAE: a miserly 45 days! And this is only if she had worked for the company for over a year. Otherwise, she’d get the 45 days, but at half pay. Sure, further leave days are allowable by law, but they should be discussed with employers and will be unpaid.
I mean, I’ve never had a baby before, but something tells me that 45 days aren’t nearly enough for a Mom to get fit (especially if she had a C-Section) and adjusted to her new life. Not to mention the helpless baby… What is one supposed to do with it when she is back to work?
Sure, in the UAE (as in Brazil), many families can hire help. But is a new Mom prepared to leave her 45 days old baby with a complete stranger, turn the page and focus on work? I don’t think so…
Not really sure about the logic behind such laws. The only thing I can think of is the fact that until very recently (and it still happens in some places and within some families) women weren’t allowed to or did not want to work. But now, with so many local and expatriates women in the workplace, will laws be revisited? Hope so!
Oh well, but I guess the grass is always greener on the other side, right? I bet people in Brazil are looking over at the laws on maternity leave enforced in some European countries.
In Denmark for example, pregnant women can take leave for four weeks before the birth. After the birth, the mother is entitled to 14 weeks of maternity leave. In addition, if both parents are working in Denmark, they are entitled to an extra 32 weeks leave between them once the child is 14 weeks old. This means at least 16 weeks for the Mom, bringing the total to over 240 days of maternity leave!
Jealous? Yeah, me too…

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  1. Mariana,
    Indeed 45 days is way too short. 6 months is way too much. I'm a father of a beautiful 5yr girl, don't get me wrong. 14weeks is ideal.

    Everything come at a costs... In Brazil, we have just started working for ourselves (until May 29th) we were paying taxes. Denmark have income tax that starts at 43% and go up to 63%.

    I go back to you and ask you a question: is it fair to have everyone paying high taxes to support these costs?

    By the how much is taxes in UAE?

    Keep posting. Love it.

  2. Gustavo, that is true. No taxes in the UAE... And perhaps the 240 days in Denmark are probably a bit too much. But, still, 45 days is just too little time.
    Loved to hear from you. Keep reading and commenting!

  3. See, everything comes at a price :)
    Argentina have 3 months with an option to additional 3 months that are not paid. USA I believe is 4 weeks! That's WAY too little. Love your blog. Got it from an ex-cowork of you at light!