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'Long bureaucratic procedures delaying establishment of daycares’

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Mar 17,2018 - Last updated at Mar 17,2018

AMMAN — The SADAQA campaign for a better working environment for women on Saturday criticised the “long bureaucratic procedures” that employers need to go through to get the necessary licences to establish workplace daycares, stressing that “companies need to get the approval of a total of five entities in a period of less than two months".

"This issue adds to the challenges that many companies in the private sector face prior to agreeing to set up a daycare,” SADAQA co-founder Randa Naffa told The Jordan Times, pointing out barriers such as the lack of room in the workplace or its non-suitability due to safety and health concerns.

Last November, the Ministry of Labour renewed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with SADAQA with the aim of implementing the National Framework for Workplace Daycares, which “facilitates and expedites the licensing process of daycares through a one-stop-shop registration window", according to Naffa. 

The framework offered organisations up to five models of workplace daycares in addition to incentives for employers who abide by the law, Naffa said, noting that “it also included skills development for caregivers and awareness raising for employers and working families on the importance and the value of daycares".

The activist pointed out that the organisation is currently working with the Ministry of Social Development to minimise the procedures companies need to go through to establish a daycare, noting that “the ministry is very supportive of the idea of having a one-stop-shop registration instead of having companies turning to five institutions — but this is still a work in progress". 

The national framework was developed by the NGO in partnership with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), building on Article 72 of the Labour Law, which requires companies that employ 20 or more women to provide daycares for children of female employees.

Article 72 is the subject of several proposals for amendments recently submitted by Coalition 72, launched by SADAQA along with the National Committee on Pay Equity, the ILO and other organisations to push for changes in the Labour Law in favour of increasing the number of crèches at companies. 

The proposed amendments demand the abolition of the requirement to employ a minimum of 20 women in order for the article to apply to an organisation, coalition member and labour policy expert Hamada Abu Nijmeh told The Jordan Times, noting that the organisation recommends for the article to require companies to establish a daycare if their workers have more than 15 children regardless of their gender. 

"Such amendment is extremely necessary not only to push for the increase in the number of daycares at companies, but to address the issue of female unemployment," Abu Nijmeh said, pointing out that "most companies in Jordan refrain from employing women in order to prevent Article 72 from applying to them". 

Naffa noted that the coalition suggested amendments on the article aimed at providing employers with alternatives when the workplace is not suitable for a daycare, offering a total of five possibilities based on the National Framework for Daycares. 

Contracting a nearby daycare, a voucher system for workers to choose among different crèches, joint daycares with other companies, on-site crèches, and daycares supported by the government and the employers through a special fund are the different options proposed by SADAQA. 

The proposed amendments have recently been adopted by the Lower House's Labour Committee, and will soon be open for discussion under the Dome for their approval by the Parliament, Coalition 72 sources told The Jordan Times.

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