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Increased maternity leave heading to cabinet

Labour Minister Yiannis Panayiotou on Monday signalled that a bill increasing maternity leave from 18 to 22 weeks would soon get the nod from the cabinet and then head to parliament.

In a written statement following a meeting of the labour advisory board, which he chaired, Panayiotou said that stakeholders – trade unions and employers organisations – have come to a consensus on expanding maternity leave.

This, he added, will allow the relevant bill to be put to the next session of the cabinet. After that, the proposed legislation will be tabled to parliament.

The bill in question increases maternity leave from 18 to 22 weeks where the first child is concerned. It applies both to cases of biological mothers and surrogate mothers. The change would affect an estimated 5,000 new mothers per year, the minister said.

Another bill under discussion relates to expanding maternity leave from 16 to 20 weeks where the first child is adopted. And another bill provides for raising maternity leave to up to eight weeks for mothers whose newborn is being nursed in an incubator due to premature birth or other health issue arising immediately after birth.

The other major issue discussed by the labour advisory board was the 12 per cent ‘penalty’ on the pensions of early retirees. On this, the minister said only that the government has the “political will” to amend the policy.

“I’m optimistic about upcoming developments in the next few weeks that can lead to an outcome positively impacting thousands of pensioners,” said Panayiotou.

Under the current system, people can retire at 63 if they have completed 33 years of social insurance contributions and covered the relevant points, but receive 12 per cent less – the so-called ‘penalty’ – than if they had retired at 65, the official retirement age.

The government has indicated it wants to reduce – but not outright scrap – the penalty. According to previous pronouncements, the proposed reduction would affect some 10,000 pensioners who have taken early retirement since 2012, with all 10,000 set to receive an extra €800 per year.

The labour advisory board additionally discussed the status of third-country nationals residing in Cyprus as students, in terms of whether they can be employed and under what conditions.

Chaired by the labour minister, the board consists of representatives of the Employers and Industrialists Federation, representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, and representatives of the PEO and SEK trade unions.

 

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