Parents of legally adopted children are also entitled for maternity leave 

Policy: With the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) implementing the revised maternity leave from yesterday, civil servants who have resumed office after their maternity leave can go back on leave again if their babies are still under six months of age.

Also, civil servants currently on maternity leave will get their leave extended until the baby reaches six months. For those on extra-ordinary leave (EOL) or earned leave for child-care, the RCSC will allow them to convert their remaining leave into maternity leave from March 1.

The Bhutan Civil Service Rules (BCSR) 2012, which in the earlier form prescribed a three-month maternity leave and a five-day paternity leave for civil servants, has been amended to make this possible. The change is aimed at promoting family values and children’s welfare in line with the country’s GNH policy.

The RCSC, however, has clarified that there will be no retrospective application of the new rule.

Maternity leave of six months will be uniform for all births including twins, cesarean and premature births. Contract employees who have not completed 12 months of service will be eligible for only three months maternity leave.

A civil servant on maternity leave will receive her basic pay, house rent allowance, difficulty allowance and high altitude allowance. For teachers, however, the allowance attached to professional practice while on maternity leave will remain unchanged.

Maternity leave will be counted from the date of delivery. All government holidays including weekends during the maternity leave will be counted.

Civil servants who have suffered miscarriage will get maternity leave of one month on production of a medical certificate.

In case of the demise of a child during birth, the mother will be eligible for three months of maternity leave including 21 days of bereavement leave. But if the child dies after three months, the mother will be entitled for the bereavement leave only.

Further, to facilitate baby feeding, mothers whose babies are under two years of age can extend their lunch time from 12noon to 2pm. In case of civil servants providing direct services such as teaching and medical professions, the management will ensure that the services are not affected as a result of the arrangement.

Parents of legally adopted children are also entitled for maternity leave just like other parents.

Maternity leave will be counted as part of active service for all human resource (HR) purposes such as promotion, training, retirement benefits and leave travel concession (LTC).

Civil servants who become parents while on study leave or EOL will get maternity leave from the date of rejoining office until the baby reaches six months. This means that a civil servant will not be eligible for leave if she rejoins office after her child crosses six months.

Paternity leave has been extended to 10 days and will be counted from the date of delivery.

In case of the mother’s demise during delivery or within six months from birth, the father is eligible for six months or the remaining months of the maternity leave as extra-ordinary paternity leave until the child is six months old.

In a news release, the RCSC stated the maternity leave was extended to commemorate the Royal Birth of HRH The Gyalsey and underline the importance of the health of mother and child, during and after pregnancy and birth. This will also recognize the importance of a child’s first thousand days as well as parenting as a shared responsibility.

“These changes are part of the RCSC’s efforts to improve the work place conditions for civil servants, and in particular, for females and families,” it stated.

The commission reviewed, in particular, the provisions under maternity and paternity leave, keeping in mind the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and the underlying health impact to the child and the mother. The National Nutritional Survey (2015) shows that the exclusive breastfeeding rate in Bhutan has been found to be only 51.4 percent.

“Studies have shown that the prevalence of stunting, wasting and underweight can be improved by promoting six months of exclusive breastfeeding, among others.” The RCSC also stated that good nutrition and care during the first thousand days of a child’s development (between the period of a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday) sets a healthy foundation for all the years that follow.

Earlier, following a proposal from the government in January this year, the RCSC recommended that either of the parents could stay home for another six months receiving half the monthly salary, half of the housing allowance and no professional allowance. But this has not come through.

MB Subba