The government is also not sure if the private sector will respect the recently endorsed six-month paid leave once enforced 

Meet the press: Although Cabinet endorsed the six-month paid maternity leave and six-month flexi-time for mothers in the civil service, the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) is yet to decide the date of implementation.

At the 21st meet the press session yesterday, Foreign Minister Damchoe Dorji, said while the proposal was discussed in the Cabinet, an understanding was reached that the proposal will come into effect from January 1, 2016.

He said the implementation would then logically apply to mothers who are currently on maternity leave.

“As long as mothers have not completed their three months maternity leave, it should apply to them. They can continue to stay on maternity leave until six months,” he said. “This was our understanding while endorsing the proposal and RCSC was of the view it should apply retrospective.”

But in RCSC’s point of view, it is likely to take some more time before the implementation comes through.

“We’re yet to discuss with the government and yet to decide date for implementation,” RCSC chairperson Dasho Karma Tshiteem said.

As of June this year, there are 9,210 female civil servants, which constitute 34.4 percent of the total 26,699 civil servants. Of that, 8,847 females are regular civil servants, and 363 are on contract. During the last eight years, almost an equal number of females and males entered the civil service.

The sector with the lowest number of female civil servants falls under the arts, culture and literary groups, which includes culture officers and translation services, among others, at 0.02 percent.

As per the labour force survey 2014, a majority of women are employed in the agriculture sector at 101,425, followed by 36,238 in the private sector, while the armed forces employ 562 female, and 236 are in the non-government organizations.

Labour minister, Ngyeema Sangay Tshempo, said the ministry is concerned about mothers in the private and corporate sector and that the two sectors in the long run may not be willing to employ women.

He said that since all private and corporate sectors are profit driven, they need efficient people who can perform more than eight hours a day.

“To begin with, Cabinet has endorsed the maternity leave extension for civil servants,” he said. “At this moment we do not know what corporate and private sector would do.”

Asked what cost implications will the government have to bear for extending the maternity leave, Finance Minister Namgay Dorji said it would be difficult to arrive at a fixed amount of cost implication.

“I accept that there will be an additional cost. Now that the Cabinet has endorsed, we’ll go into the system and analyze but the amount we work out will still be a projection,” he said.

Lyonpo Namgay Dorji added it will be difficult to work out the cost implications because the number of people the government may have to employ in absence of mothers on leave will have to be calculated. Moreover, the civil service follows a system where the responsibilities of an absentee is handled by another civil servant, serving as a substitute.

Nirmala Pokhrel