ISLAMABAD: Pakistani people, government and private sector employees have reacted differently to Senate’s recent legislation that has not only increased number of days of maternity leave, but also grants three-month paternity leave to all those employees/workers of organisations that fall under the administrative control of the federal government.

According to the bill maternity leave for working mothers is enhanced from 90 days to 180 on the birth of the first baby. It also grants paid paternity leave of three months as well for the first time in the country’s history.

The bill will now be submitted to the National Assembly and once it sails through the lower house of the parliament, it will require only Presidential nod to come into effect as law.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Quratulain Marri moved the bill on private members’ day that was passed by the opposition dominating Upper House (Senate) of the Parliament with majority of vote while the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government opposed it.

“The Maternity and Paternity Leave Bill” says employees of every establishment — public or private organisation, corporation, and autonomous or semi-autonomous body—shall be provided six months paid maternity and three months paternity leave “as and when applied” by them.

The employees could also apply for an additional three months optional unpaid maternity and one-month paternity leave, separately and their management would grant them.

The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senators opposing the bill said such lengthy maternity leave was not allowed in any part of the world and 90 days leave for working mothers was already permitted under the law.

Since the passage of bill from the Senate, an unending debate on social media has picked up the trend on the social media and those belonging to the government or private sector are welcoming this but at the same time, there are voices that go against it.

Minister for Economic Affairs Division Hammad Azhar while opposing the bill said such long parental leaves were unnecessary. “The constitution already allows 90 days of maternity leave and nowhere in the world is such a long paternity leave given and it should be reduced to 15 days,” said Hammad Azhar while opposing the bill in the Senate of Pakistan.

Zeina Toric Azad a female journalist contended the minister on the legislation saying it a ‘win and massive step towards more inclusive workplaces and normalising paternal care and love’.

Another social media user Sadaf is of the view: “There is paternity leave in most parts of the world. It is just a fairly new concept in Pakistan.”