[Ethiopia] Labour law revisions give extended maternity leave

Revisions to labour law will extend maternal leave after a draft to revise the existing Labor Proclamation was approved by the House of People's Representatives (HPR), All Africa reports.

The former proclamation was in place for a decade. The new bill was reportedly conceived to sit better with the country's economic growth, development policies and strategies, and industrial developments. Labour Proclamation 1156/2019 gives female workers an extended period of maternal leave and also extends the probation period for new recruits.

The revised bill has been reviewed by the Women, Youth and Social Affairs standing committee. It grants female employees a minimum of 120 days of maternity leave. This includes one month of pre-natal leave and three months of post-natal leave.

Abeba Yosef - the head of the standing committee - said, when presenting the bill, that these amendments help guarantee the right of workers and employers to form their respective associations and engage through their lawfully elected representatives as well as lay down the procedure for the quick and efficient settlement of labour disputes arising between workers and employers.

Ms Yosef also pointed out that the revision will help strengthen and legally define the powers and duties of the government body charged with the responsibility of inspecting labour administration, particularly labour conditions, occupational safety, health and work environment. One of its core aims is to encourage smooth working relationships between employers and employees.

The bill extends the probation period of employees from 45 days, where it currently stands, to 60 days.

The provision states that the agreement should be made in writing and that the period should not exceed 60 working days from the first date of employment. It additionally states that if the worker proves to be unfit for their post during their probation period, the employer can terminate their contract of employment without notice and without the obligation of severance payment or compensation.

Ms Abeba said she believes the latest proclamation will allow workers and employers to maintain industrial peace and work in the spirit of cooperation towards the economic growth of the country.

The HPR also unanimously approved the revised Proclamation on Value Added Tax, in the same session. The previous incarnation stood for 17 years. The Revised Value Added Tax Proclamation No.1157/2019 is intended to overcome tax collection obstacles and facilitate trade activities across the country.

The bill’s primary focus is to revise provisions including Accounting Periods, VAT paid on capital goods and refunding withheld VAT. Under the existing bill, anyone registered under the VAT payers' category must report every month, whatever their turnover, even if the business shows no transactions.

To address this, the new bill says VAY payers must report every month only if their annual transaction is more than 70,000,000 birr and/or import capital goods. VAT payers recording less than 70,000,000 birr annually, and those who have a nil transaction, may report every three months.