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Even though the general perception is that the private sector has an abundance of female employees the latest statistics from the Department of Labour points to the contrary. The Department confirmed that the problem was compounded further, with around 64%, according to a recent survey opting out of the private sector. The male to female ratio in the Government sector was 54.9%:45.1% while the situation in the private sector was meager, pointing to a big problem in relation to female employment in the said sector.

According to analysts this trend is due to the fact that there is a general perception that Government employment is ‘cushy’, while private sector makes more demands for the wage paid and greater emphasis on monitoring and accountability.

According to P. Mahadeva, Commissioner of Labour (Women and Children), the reasons why  females in particular were unwilling to take up posts/positions in paid jobs in the private sector, he explained were, due to social norms, having to spend time with the family and especially on children, children’s education and other aspects, maternal benefits, facilities and time arrangements.
In the Government sector, 84 working days are given as maternity leave, a further provision of 84 days on half pay and in addition another 84 days can be applied on the basis of no pay. Feeding time is also provided.

For those in the private sector, as per the Shop and Office Employees (Regulation of Employment and Remuneration) Act, only 84 days of maternity leave is given and this too is only for the first two children. For the third child, only half the number of days will be given. They are not given a time for feeding.
The Maternity Benefits Ordinance provides factory workers 12 weeks for the first two children. The feeding hours facility is made available to them.

The Department which is looking at amending the Shop and Office Employees (Regulation of Employment and Remuneration) Act and the Maternity Benefits Ordinance, has however run into practical problems with the employers and the Legal Draftsman’s Department over the moves.

“It is due to these disparities that they are not willing to take up jobs in the private sector. The employers are not willing to take up the responsibility for reasons which are revenue/income, manufacturing, production and service related. The employers call for the Government to establish a fund like the Employees Trust Fund in this regard. Due to financial difficulties and the current economic situation, the Government is not in a position to immediately do so.”

“This is the main obstacle for amending the said laws. We have proposed that the laws be amended for the future, so that until the Government fund is established, the private sector employers should be responsible for the provision of such. However the Legal Draftsman’s Department objects, adding that they cannot lawfully draft bills in such a manner. We are in trouble,” he further explained.

The Department is also looking at amending the Shop and Office Employees (Regulation of Employment and Remuneration) Act and the Maternity Benefits Ordinance, yet have run into practical problems with the employers and the Legal Draftsman’s Department over this move.

The latest Labour Force Survey Bulletin shows that the unemployment rate among females had increased from 7.3% to 7.6% during the third quarter of 2016. According to the preliminary findings of the Preliminary Report on the Census of Public and Semi Government Sector Employment – 2016 conducted by the Department of Census and Statistics, the total number of employees in the Public and Semi Government sector is 1,117,808, out of which 54.9% were males while 45.1% were females. The figure excludes the staff of tri-forces. Females engaged in employment in the informal sector came up to only 4%.