Is my job secure when I'm on maternity leave?

Parental leave is a right to employees – regardless of gender - and not a favour extended by the employer.

For starters, parental leave is leave taken by parents who wish to take a break or reduce their working time to fully devote time to cater for their new born.

Section 29 of the Employment Act guarantees new mothers three months’ maternity leave with full pay.

However, female employees will only be entitled to the maternity rights after giving at least a seven-day notice (in writing).

There are also some occasions where some employers require employees to produce medical certificates from qualified medical practitioners before allowing them to proceed on maternity leave.

Upon the lapse of the leave, mothers have a right to return to the job they held before proceeding on leave.

On the flipside, fathers are also entitled to two weeks’ paternity leave with full pay and – just like new mothers - their employment rights are equally protected while on paternity leave – including the rights to pay increases, among many others, depending on their employment contract.

Moreover, the Employment Act provides that a female employee shall not forfeit her annual leave entitlement on account of having taken her maternity leave.

It is possible for parents of new-born babies to seek their paternity rights before the Employment and Labour Relations court.

The Constitution aside, the International Labour Convention (ILO) requires that a woman on maternity leave may not be dismissed from service.

-Harold is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya