Three-month maternity leave for women demanded in Oman
August 22, 2015 | 6:31 PM

Muscat: Maternity leave period in Oman should be of at least three months, says the women’s community in Oman, as the draft of new labour law has proposed increasing the leave to 60 days.

At present, women working in the private sector are entitled to 50 days of maternity leave, while those in the government sector get 60.

Read also: Do fathers in Oman deserve paternity leave?

An official from the General Federation for Oman Trade Unions recently said that apart from an increase in maternity leave, the new law would allow working woman to take an hour off in a day for breast-feeding. A nursery at the workplace is also among the proposals.

Saada Mohammed Al Mamari, from the nutrition department of the Ministry of Health, has been calling for longer maternity leave, and says that mothers should be entitled to ‘at least three months of leave’ after childbirth.

Also, a one-hour breast-feeding break is a must for mothers, she told the Times of Oman.

Hasna Fahim Al Said, co-founder of the Women Organisation, says that the Omani law allows 50 days of maternity leave with full salary payment, only three times during the employment.

“There are many working mothers who want more time off to spend with their new-borns, and they are hoping that maternity leave is increased to 60 days. Some mothers prefer 90 days,” she said, adding that amendments to the law would be welcome.

According to her, it was a great step forward when the law was amended several years ago and maternity leave was increased from 40 days to 50.

She said that changes may happen if the country’s economy is strong enough to provide such support for working mothers as the number of working mothers has increased in both the private and public sectors.

One-hour break

In addition, the co-founder of the Women Organisation noted that she supports a one-hour break for breast-feeding.

Tonia Gray, general manager at Competence HR, says that studies show that three months is the minimum time that a mother should be at home to ensure her own health and the health and development of her baby.

“Studies show that there are developmental and behavioural issues related to shorter periods of time spent on maternity leave which impact negatively throughout the child’s development years. They also show increased sickness with babies whose mothers return before the three-month period. Even more importantly, infant deaths decrease by 20 per cent, according to studies published in the Economic Journal in 2005, when mothers remain at home beyond this period,” she said.

She explained that these studies are based on European statistics where records have been kept since the 19th century monitoring the trends related to childbirth and leave and surveys in the United States.

“Of course these statistics may not apply to Oman, but I have not seen any research here in this regard. However, speaking from personal experience, I believe that returning to work in under three months is extremely difficult and absolutely exhausting,” said the general manager at Competence HR.


Susan Flower, president of the Women’s Guild in Oman (WGO), believes that the issue of funding and potential cost to businesses should be taken into consideration when speaking about the length of maternity leave, particularly as Omani women may have many babies.

“Mothers should be given a minimum of six months off work if they wish to take it, with no loss of employment rights etc., perhaps with a qualifying period in between each birth to avoid companies regularly having to pay out for long periods of maternity leave,” she said.

Sharing the United Kingdom (UK) experience, Flower said that companies should have the option to offer longer leave at their discretion.

“In the UK, an employee may have up to one year of maternity leave (subject to having been employed for a minimum period to qualify). A statutory maternity allowance should be payable during the period of maternity leave,” she added.

Other countries

Al Raisi, a mother of two, says that a minimum of three months of maternity leave is ‘definitely necessary’ and authorities should even consider increasing it further, following the example of countries which provide commendable support to working mothers.

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