Work and Children

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I am a working mother of two children. Can my prospective employer discriminate against me?

As a matter of fact, you can't be discriminated on the basis of sex in accordance with article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan. The equality clause in the Constitution, however, does not stop the state to take special measures for protection of children and women. Moreover, according to the article 18 of Constitution, you have the right to enter any lawful profession or occupation and to conduct any lawful trade or business

If you are eligible for the job and meet all the requirements, you can't be discriminated against. Another relevant article of Constitution (27) states that no citizen qualified for appointment in the service of Pakistan shall be discriminated against in respect of such appointment on the ground only of race, religion, caste, sex, residence or place of birth. Although this article does not mention "marriage or being a mother" as a condition of non-discrimination, however it needs to be understood that children are also incremental to the sex provision i.e. A woman can't be discriminated on the basis of sex also means that she can't be discriminated when she is married or has children.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh have added non-discrimination provisions in their newly enacted legislation by adding following or similar provisions. 

"No discrimination shall be made on the basis of sex, religion, political affiliation, sect, colour, caste, creed, ethnic background in considering and disposing of issues relating to the enforcement of this Act"

Are there any special provisions relating to working mothers in the law?

According to the article 37(e) of the Constitution, State shall make provisions for securing just and humane condition of work for every worker. Both the Labor Protection Policy 2006 and Labor Policy 2010 talk about providing day care facilities for the children of working mothers.Daycare facilities have also been ensured for children of working mothers under the Factories Act 1934. According to the section 33-Q of the said Act, the Provincial government can make rules requiring a factory wherein more than 50 women are employed, a suitable room shall be reserved for children, under the age of six years, belonging to these women. Under the Punjab Factories Rules, 1978, these rooms are restricted only to children, their attendants and mothers of children. Every establishment is also required to hire a trained nurse and a female servant for looking after the children. Women workers can also use this room for breast-feeding their children during breaks.

If you are living in Islamabad and are a government servant, you can take your child (under the age of four years) to the day care center maintained by the Establishment Division, Government of Pakistan. The timing of daycare center is from 08:00 AM to 05:00 PM. This centre charges only a petty amount of PKR 100 to 500 per month for one baby. It is located in the office Building of the Staff Welfare Organization, near Aabpara Bus Stop, G-6, Islamabad.

The daycare centre can be contacted at 051-9204825.

Reputable firms like Telenor are also opening daycare centres for employee children as well. Similarly, the Factories Act (section 21) provides for enclosed and separate toilets for female workers.

Under its Women Empowerment Package, Punjab Government has announced a Punjab Day Care Fund (100 million rupees grant) for establishing day care centers in all those organizations with 5 or more female workers. 

Is there any provision in the law for medical care of my children/dependents?

The Provincial Employees Social Security Ordinance 1965 has clear provisions on this. If you are a secured person (meaning that contribution for you are or were payable by your employer to the Social Security Institution), you and your dependents are entitled to the medical care (section 38). In case of an illness, you and your dependents can either be treated at the Social Security Hospital or any other hospital with which your employer has agreement for treatment of its employees.

Similarly, if a worker dies, his/her dependents will be entitled to the medical care for one year from the date of worker's death. The deceased worker must have been in continuous employment for the last 12 months."And if the worker was a seasonal worker, his dependents are entitled to six months' medical care however the deceased employee must have worked in the establishment for "not less than"/at least six months (in two preceding continuous seasons).

Are there any provisions in law regarding education of my children?

First of all, under the article 25-A of constitution (added through 18th constitutional amendment in 2010), it is now the state responsibility to provide your children free and compulsory education from age 5 to 16 years.

There is a special law with provisions for workers' children education and it assigns levies on employers to raise funds for worker's children education. The funds thus collected are used to provide educational facilities to workers' children and improvement of schools located in or attached to the industrial undertakings (Punjab Education Cess Utilization Rules, 1978). The Workers' Children (Education) Ordinance 1972 is applicable to an establishment, which at any time during the year had employed ten or more employees. The education cess/tax levied on such organizations is one hundred rupees per annum per worker. These funds are collected and administered by the Social Security Institution.

The worker under this law is any skilled, unskilled, manual or clerical worker whose monthly wages don't exceed three thousand rupees (read it as PKR 15,000, as this is the minimum wage now) but a worker will still remain a worker under this act if his wages exceed the three thousand (seven thousand) rupee limit with time or if the number of persons employed is reduced to less than ten.

The provincial government is also responsible for providing free education to your two children (and only two!) to any level of education. You will have to apply through your employer to the district committee for availing this opportunity. This committee will decide whether financial assistance is to be given to your children in connection with their education. The amount of financial assistance will be sent directly to the head of institution who will also submit quarterly reports on your children's educational progress. This financial assistance will be withdrawn if you are dismissed, retrenched or terminated or if your children are not showing progress and failing courses.


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