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SSC support for daycares hailed as 'a step in the right direction'

Activists welcome SCC decision to bear part of daycare costs

By Maram Kayed - Dec 15,2020 - Last updated at Dec 16,2020

Activists have welcomed the Social Security Corporation’s decision to bear part of daycare costs (Photo courtesy of UNICEF)

AMMAN — Amid increasing calls on the government to support working mothers with affordable daycare centres, an advocacy organisation has welcomed the Social Security Corporation’s (SSC) decision to provide financial support to new mothers through its maternity fund.

Member of SADAQA organisation Randa Naffa expressed content over the amendments to the SSC’s maternity fund. 

The amendments allows for new mothers the chance to have their child’s nursery costs covered by the maternity fund for up to six months, upon return from maternity leave as of October 2020.

“After pressure from civil organisations and support of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), we were able to make an important step towards a more female-empowered workforce,” said Naffa.

Given that the nursery is licensed and registered with the Ministry of Social Development as well as the SSC, the latter will cover the monthly costs of enrolling a child in a daycare within the range of JD25 to JD60 a month, as long as the daycare centre is home-based and that the mother’s income level meet certain criteria.

The fund will also provide direct financial support for daycare centres to “cover their operational costs, ensure sustainability of the sector and support the wide provision of daycare service for working parents”, said Naffa.

She added that the “lack of affordable and accessible centres has been a major barrier for women’s economic participation in Jordan”.

The ILO and SADAQA welcomed the decision, especially that the maternity fund has had “excess funds which should be utilised for the purposes it was created for, mainly supporting women’s labour rights and labour force participation,” Naffa told The Jordan Times.

The ILO said in a statement that it “welcomes the government’s approval of Regulation No. 93 of 2020 regarding social protection on maternity insurance, which aims to economically empower working women and ensure their participation in the labour market.”

“This enables female workers to return to work after childbearing as well as provide care for their children in nurseries or at home,” the organisation added.

It also stressed that the decision represents "an important step forward in protecting women's rights in Jordan”.

Deputy Regional Director for Arab States at the International Labour Organisation Frank Hagemann described Jordan as having "one of the best maternity protection systems in the region in 2020".

"With the support of the organisation, the SSC took a positive step in 2014 by approving maternity insurance that provides paid maternity leave for mothers, and now Jordan has taken another very important step in the right direction expanding the maternity social protection umbrella," he added.

 

According to the SSC, in the event that the insured chooses a licensed nursery to take care of her child, the monthly care allowance would be inversely proportional to her wage. 

The distribution is as follows: For those who earn less than JD300, the allowance is JD60, for those who earn more than JD300 and up to JD500, the allowance amounts to JD40 and the allowance is set at JD40 for those who earn more than JD500 and less than JD1,000.

The allowance is set at JD25 for mothers choosing to keep their child at home or in a home-based daycare. 

To be able to benefit from the programme, several criteria must be met: The mother must return to work after the end of her maternity leave, the newborn child should be alive and that the mother’s wage does not exceed JD1,000 per month.

Mothers who meet these criteria and who are entitled to maternity leave will be able to benefit from the new system as long as their leave did not expire before October 20.

“This is a necessary move to achieve gender equality in the workplace by protecting the jobs of working mothers, promoting decent work, and supporting the daycare sector to ensure the provision of a quality and affordable daycare service for working parents,” said Naffa.

Ensuring higher percentage of economic participation of women should be accompanied with laws, policies and funds to provide childcare, she added.

The fund will allow registered daycares to receive direct cash benefits ranging from JD5,000 to JD10,000  to support them in covering operational costs.

“This system was approved in a timely manner to support the childcare sector and nurseries by ensuring their sustainability in light of the difficult economic conditions caused by the pandemic, as many of them have not been covered by any previous support packages issued by the government,” noted Naffa.

 

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