The Draft Law on Maternal and Child Welfare commonly referred to as the “MCW Bill”, was enacted to unify the regulations concerning the welfare of mothers and children, which are still found in various laws and regulations and cannot accommodate the dynamics and legal needs of the community; hence, a separate comprehensive regulation is needed.
The welfare of mothers and children is an inseparable unity that affects each other.
Children can grow well if their mothers are in their good health, especially during pregnancy and the process of giving birth.
Children who have excellent well-being and development later grow to be a good human resources for the continuation of this nation.
The MCW Bill is hoped to be the guidance of the state to surmount Indonesia’s stunting problem.
Stunting is a condition where toddlers’ body height does not reach their expected and normal height at their age, as this is measured scientifically.
Toddler stunting can be categorised as a chronic nutritional problem caused by many factors, including socioeconomic conditions, maternal nutrition during pregnancy, infant morbidity, and lack of nutritional intake.
Indonesia is the 5th country in the world with the highest stunting number. 1 out 4 Indonesian children are stunted; and additionally, the maternal mortality rate is high, with 300 mothers out of 100 thousand mothers dying whilst giving birth or soon thereafter.
Hence, it is deemed necessary to alleviate this situation by creating a law to specifically address this issue.
The MCW Bill was passed by the DPR on June 9, 2022. Maternity leave and husband’s accompanying leave is regulated in Article 4 paragraph (2)(a) and Article 6 (2) (a) respectively, and read as follows:
“Article 4 (2) In addition to the rights as referred to in paragraph (1), every working mother has the right to:
a. obtain maternity leave of at least 6 (six) months;
(2) The husband, as referred to in paragraph (1) is entitled to the right to accompanying leave:
a. for a maximum of 40 (forty) days; or” Looking at the length of maternity leave for women/ mothers as regulated in the MCW Bill, there is a significant difference in the period from the status quo for maternity leave as stipulated in Article 82 of Law Number 13 of 2003 concerning Manpower which only grants a total of 3 (three) months.
These have serious implications for several parties. First, the positive implication is that the extended period of maternity leave will enhance a mother’s ability to develop ‘harmony’ and ‘sensitivity’ to her child.
Researchers have found that an increase in the length of maternity leaves positively affects a mother’s responsiveness, sensitivity, influence, and the quality of the mother-child relationship.
The increase in the duration of leave will affect the increase in the use of leave and the provision and duration of breastfeeding mothers for their children, where breastfeeding children since the length of breastfeeding period has a proven positive effect on the child’s health.
The WHO report in 2001 recommended a period of breastfeeding children of six months. With prolonged leave, a mother can have a more opportunity to breastfeed her child, according to the recommendations.
The negative implications of this extended maternity leave will undoubtedly impact business actors and female workers.
The MCW bill can potentially cause discrimination against female workers, where companies will reduce the acceptance of single female workers or create a clause that does not allow female workers to marry. The rules regarding maternity leave wages in the MCW Bill state that there is a salary of 100% in the first three months and 75% in the following three months.
The long leave period and accompanying financial burden on wages may significantly impact the company financially and non-financially.
Companies will lose productivity from female workers on leave for too long while the company must continue to pay wages for these workers.
We will have to wait and see how companies react to these significant changes. It is hoped that companies will react positively rather than to make hiring decisions based on gender, age, and the risk of pregnancy after hiring.
The legal implication and the status of the MCW Bill is also in question.10 Chapter 9 of the Closing Provisions of the MCW Bill provide no explicit article that revokes or changes the provisions on maternity leave in Law Number 13 of 2003 concerning Manpower.
It could be very well argued that the MCW Bill stands alone, and because the labour regulations are more specific than the MCW Bill, then the 3-month maternity leave provision should take precedence. (SFA/SPU)
The information contained in this Legal Insight is not intended to provide legal opinion or views of the Anggraeni and Partners law offices against a particular legal issue. Neither party may assume that he or she should act or cease to act or choose to act on a particular matter based on this information without seeking advice from professionals in the field of law in accordance with certain facts and circumstances it faces.
This Legal Insight is provided by the writer for the purposes of development of legal knowledge. Every effort has been performed to publish a high accuracy article, however, should there be any inaccuracies, please address your feedback to our editorial team.