Mon, Aug 23, 2004 - Page 4 News List

No plans to hike maternity leave length, says CLA

MISLEADING RUMORS Reports that the council would extend maternity leave to 12 weeks to boost the nation's birth rate were unfounded

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) last week denied reports that it plans to extend the length of maternity leave to 12 weeks in order to help boost the nation's birth rate.

"As of now, the CLA does not have any plan to extend maternity leave to 12 weeks from the current 8 weeks," the CLA statement said. "If in the future, the Cabinet needs the CLA to make amendments to the policy in order to increase birth rate, the CLA will be co-operative on that front."

Recent speculation about CLA plans to change the maternity leave came after the Executive Yuan released figures showing that the nation's birth rate is one of the lowest in the world. The news alarmed the country, and the government subsequently established programs to boost the birth rate. Some media outlets speculated that the CLA planned to lengthen maternity leave as an incentive to mothers who were reluctant to become pregnant.

The eight-week period for maternity leave was established by the Gender Equality in Employment Law (兩性工作平等法), which passed in 2001.

The Awakening Foundation, a women's group, said that the current eight week maternity leave is not sufficient for post-partum mothers.

"From talking to working mothers who have given birth, it's clear that eight weeks are not enough for mothers to regain their peak physical condition, or to provide the necessary care to the infant," the Awakening Foundation's Tsen Chao-yuan (曾昭媛) said.

Tsen said that the main reason why many families do not have children is a lack of financial means to support them.

"Most of the households in our society [rely on] double incomes," Tsen said. "It is almost impossible for a mother to take care of her children. As a result, families simply choose to have as few children as possible, or to have none."

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