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Advocacy group decries ‘lack of clarity’ over workplace nursery guidelines

By Maria Weldali - Feb 09,2021 - Last updated at Feb 09,2021

AMMAN — The instructions for workplace nurseries alternatives of 2021, issued recently in the Official Gazette under paragraph B of Article 72 of Labour Law No. 8 of 1996 and its amendments, raise serious concerns as they fall short of details outlining the obligations of the employer, according to SADAQA, a non-profit organisation.

The instructions have been developed outside the context of the framework agreed upon between the concerned parties, who were consulted by a committee formed by the Labour Ministry in 2019, to develop the directives of Article 72, according to a SADAQA statement shared with The Jordan Times.

The role of the Labour Ministry is to oblige and support employers to apply the directives of Article 72, the statement added.

“Those instructions have given way to circumvent the spirit of the law and have come at the expense of establishing workplace nurseries, as stipulated in paragraph A of Article 72,” the statement said.

There are no criteria or approved standards for accepting or rejecting paragraph A of Article 72, which would allow to turn to alternative arrangements, as provided for in paragraph B, SADAQA executive board member Sahar Aloul told The Jordan Times over the phone on Saturday.

Furthermore, Aloul said that due to the “absence of clear and detailed criteria” that would clarify to whom paragraph A is applicable, employers may turn towards workplace nurseries alternatives.

Meanwhile, Labour Ministry Spokesperson Mohammad Al Zyoud told The Jordan Times on Monday that the instructions relating to workplace nurseries alternatives are implemented in case employers are incapable of providing an on-site nursery, which they are obliged to set up in case two conditions are fulfilled.

According to Zyoud, those conditions are that the employees should have at least 15 children that are less than five years old. Consequently, the employer is obliged to use one alternative solution, which is either in the form of a contract between the employer and a nursery, or by the employer granting a cash allowance to the employee.

“Those instructions take into account employers’ conditions in terms of the working environment, whether it is adequate for providing a nursery or not,” the spokesperson said

“Article 72 aims towards promoting women’s economic participation,” but as things are left in the hands of the labour officer who may not have criteria to serve as an orientation guide, this would affect the achievement of those objectives, she added.

On the same note, Zyoud pointed out that “setting conditions for establishing and licensing on-site nurseries is within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Social Development”, noting that the labour officer’s role is confined to ensuring the extent of the employer’s commitment to provide adequate workplace nurseries, in accordance with the provisions of Article 72. 

“Women’s economic participation stands at 14 per cent, which is quite low, and among the main barriers that hinder women’s labour force participation is the lack of child care facilities,” according to Aloul.

She added that SADAQA representatives met with Labour Minister Maen Qatamin, who in turn said that he would look into the matter.

 SADAQA, is a non-profit organisation that was established in 2011, with the purpose to disseminate and operationalise Article 72 of the Labour Law, and increase women and employers’ awareness of the importance of having a nursery at the workplace, in order to assist mothers to attain employment and family stability, enabling them to hold decision-making positions, according to the SADAQA website.

“The Labour Ministry, through its various agencies and departments work towards promoting women’s economic rights, through solving the complaints it receives regarding maternity leaves, breastfeeding leaves, in addition to the adoption of a policy to protect working women from sexual harassment, which decreases women’s dropping out of the labour market,” Zyoud said.

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