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House now rejects leave for parents of adopted children

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Economy

House now rejects leave for parents of adopted children


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Parliament buildings in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Parliament has yielded to President Uhuru Kenyatta and deleted sections of a Bill that would have compelled employers to give leave to parents of adopted children or those born through surrogacy.
  • The National Assembly failed to marshall a two-thirds majority — or 233 lawmakers — to overturn the President’s memorandum to the Employment (Amendment) Bill, 2019 sponsored by Gilgil MP Martha Wangari.
  • The Bill sought to provide two months leave to mothers of a child born as a result of surrogacy and two weeks paternity leave to fathers.

Parliament has yielded to President Uhuru Kenyatta and deleted sections of a Bill that would have compelled employers to give leave to parents of adopted children or those born through surrogacy.

The National Assembly failed to marshall a two-thirds majority — or 233 lawmakers — to overturn the President’s memorandum to the Employment (Amendment) Bill, 2019 sponsored by Gilgil MP Martha Wangari.

The Bill sought to provide two months leave to mothers of a child born as a result of surrogacy and two weeks paternity leave to fathers.

The House approved Mr Kenyatta’s memorandum through a simple majority at the Committee of the Whole House without any debate, handing employers a huge reprieve from costs associated with maternity and paternity leave.

The Bill will now be presented to Mr Kenyatta for assent. The President had on November 2, 2020 returned the Bill to Parliament with a memorandum asking MPs to amend Clause 3 of the Bill by deleting sub-clauses (4), (5) and (6).

In rejecting the Bill, Mr Kenyatta cited the absence of a substantive legal and regulatory framework governing surrogacy in Kenya.

Mr Kenyatta said since the area of surrogacy touches on children, reproductive rights, and the concept of family, Kenya must put in place a rigorous substantive legal and regulatory framework to protect all parties within the surrogacy arrangement.

Kenya lacks a law on surrogacy, a method of assisted child birth where parents commission a woman to give birth on their behalf. Under the current law, a child born through a surrogacy still needs to be adopted through a court process.

TWO-WEEK PATERNITY

Kenya’s law allows a fully paid, three-month maternity leave and a two-week paternity break for fathers.

Many companies frown upon these breaks, viewing them as an additional labour cost that sometimes forces them to hire temporary workers.

The pre-adoptive leave targeted to benefit parents who commission other women to carry babies on their behalf, bringing them in the same bracket with those who nurse their own pregnancies.



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