NAMIBIAN women can now look forward to taking care of their newborns during three months of maternity leave, while being paid up to N $ 15,000 a month.
These are among a series of amendments to the Social Security Commission (SSC) payments for maternity, sick leave and death benefits, published by the Ministry of Labor, Industrial Relations and Job Creation this week.
Women used to receive a maximum of N $ 13,000 a month – regardless of their salary.
The new benefit is 100% of their basic salary, up to a maximum of N $ 15,000 per. month.
The changed maternity benefits are paid for a maximum of 12 weeks.
Expected women previously chose to work until their due date to avoid potential financial losses from the previous SSC payout.
The new sickness benefit must be equal to 75% of an employee’s basic salary, up to a maximum of 11,250 N $ per month for 12 months. This amount was previously N $ 9,750.
The death benefit is now a single lump sum of N $ 12,000 compared to the N $ 8,475 received previously.
SSC CEO Milka Mungunda said this week that the adjustment was prompted by the quest to improve the benefits for its customers.
“When we look at how our Social Security Commission Fund is doing, these are some of the benefits we are introducing. We intend to see how often we can introduce and improve benefits for all our members,” she said.
At the moment, Mungunda says, it is difficult to pay women full pay while they are on maternity leave.
“The contribution to social security determines how much you get paid. If you look at the monthly contribution, it goes up to N $ 13,000 at this point. We intend to phase in benefits over time.
“We can not do it all at once because there will be some financial consequences,” she said.
Mungunda does not rule out the possibility of full payment for all women in the future.
“For example, if you currently earn N $ 40,000 a month. We cannot pay you N $ 40,000 a month because your current total contribution is based on N $ 13,000,” she said.
“Once the benefits have been approved, we look at our budget, financial position and investment strategy. That’s how it is determined. The Minister of Labor then does the final part with the magazine.”
NO FATHER BENEFITS
Mungunda also said Namibian laws do not allow men to claim paternity benefits.
“It is not our problem at the moment. It’s a working question. For us, it is about women going on maternity leave, ”she said.
Meanwhile, labor expert Herbert Jauch says women with higher wages still have to settle for lower incomes than their usual wages despite the adjustments.
He says the deal would still not benefit women earning more than N $ 16,000 a month.
“This has always been the dilemma for Namibia, especially the SSC, because during maternity leave it is the commission that pays the woman’s basic salary and the benefits a woman has during maternity leave will be paid by her employer,” he says.
Jauch says the principle is that women should not lose money while on maternity leave, and Namibia has in principle committed itself to this.
“That’s why they have not completely done away with this, to push it up to unlimited amounts would mean increased monthly contributions. What they have now done is to say that women in the upper middle income groups are now getting their full pay.
“The question for those in higher brackets would be to weigh their options on whether they will take leave and lose money or lose money and continue to get their full pay,” he says.
Jauch says the proposed paternity leave by unions could alleviate maternity leave problems and allow men to help women with newborns.
“This is a common practice in other countries, but so far our legislators have not entertained it at all. It is certainly something to look at from now on, because there is nothing for young fathers in the current law,” he says.
Labor law expert Johann van Rooyen welcomes the increased benefits, but says that the maternity allowance should help the employee where possible.
“I am in favor of improving the general conditions for maternity leave so that everyone can receive the same benefit or income that they had while working. This is so that they do not have problems coping while they are on maternity leave, ”he says.
Labor Minister Utoni Nujoma, who was outside the country, could not be reached for comment at the time of printing.