I have been meaning to write this blog for a while as it’s something very close to my heart and I want to spread the word and getting others to act on it… you dont have to be a Mum to act you can be a Dad, a Sister, a Brother or any family or friend or anyone that has been affected by the short 45 days maternity leave which applies to the private sector here in the UAE.
I am going to keep this short and sweet as its very simple but you need to be brave and you also need to research and get the numbers and understand the impact financially it will have on the business and sector you might be working in.
Having worked hard for months to get the proposal in tip top shape to present to the board of my company I know the kind of questions you might be asked if you are going to try and act on your companies maternity policy to make it better and over and above the labour law requirements.
Don`t wait for the change….make the change happen!!How many times have your heard a friend or a colleague say “ the maternity package is terrible here” next time you hear that say to them they should try and tackle it!!!!
Here we go:
- Passion – it must matter to you and must be close to your heart as you will have to work hard and influence the leaders and do your homework. It has to matter from the bottome of your heart and that is why it worked for me.. because it really did matter and I wanted to make sure others benefited from a longer period of paid maternity leave over the minimum labour law requirements.
- Do your homework? – Research other companies in your industry and find out what others are doing, contact the statistics office here in the UAE maybe they have stats you can use. Look at the International Labour Organisation and see what they reccomend as a minimum and if your company is applying that amount of time? What benefits do the business get and how does it help employees?
- The Maths – Work closely with the finance team and try as much as you can to get information on how many females have been off work longer than the 45 days and work out the average as you need some financial stats to understand how much more would it cost the business to give more paid time off for maternity leave. If the leave is not recorded as maternity leave then you may have to send out some questionnaires to employees and ask them how long they took off work for maternity leave and then calculate some costs with finance but bring someone into your team to help as you do need some help to work out the costs to the business.
- The Policy – Invite and engage with a HR expert who understands the impact overall and policy change and what can and cannot be done in terms of local laws.I really benefited from bringing in a HR expert to help me with the proposal.
- The benefits- What are the true benefits of changing the policy? Does the business gain anything and if they dont then be honest its going to cost them but its the right thing to do! I was astounded at the benefits beneath the improved policys and greater maternity leave in terms of retaining good employees.
- The Options – Have options for your Management Team.. maybe have 3 options for them and present phases which could include Paternity Leave and Adopted Leave. Aim high but have some other options available such as 14 weeks paid ( as recommended by the international labour organisation but 2nd option might be 10 weeks full pay, 4 weeks half pay… dont just have one option!
- Present the case as a team – Don’t go alone make sure your board or management team know you have engaged with all the right people, the experts such as HR and Finance.
- Making the Change – Understand what it will take if the approval is accepted as HR and Finance have a lot of work to do creating booking codes and a new policy and may be writing some communications out to the business and to Line Managers. Make sure you see it to the end.
Finally once you have your YES celebrate and get the news out to the business you have become a Change Agent and made a change that will impact many other females in your business!!! Next step Paternity Leave!!!
If things don’t happen instantly and you feel a negative response from your Leaders or employer then try another avenue and look at getting a better understanding of why the company does not think its important or cannot take action at the time as there maybe something else happening and its not the right time so maybe you can address it another few months down the line but the most important thing is to at least ask!!!!
Good Luck 🙂
For the author:
Fiona Blakey is a Regional QSSE Manager with over 10 years experience in a Major Design and PM International Consultancy and 5 years working in the Middle East. She is a full time working Mum and lives with her Husband Ashley and daughter Erin in the Marina and thoroughly enjoying life here in Dubai.