Gov’t Wants New Law to Protect Working Women

Gov’t Wants New Law to  Protect Working Women Gov’t Wants New Law to  Protect Working Women

The general outlines of a bill to reduce working hours for women under “special circumstances” were approved last week in the Majlis (parliament).

The bill was first proposed ten years ago during the first tenure of the former government by the Vice Presidency for Family and Women Affairs.

Having managed to garner 115 votes in favor among the 196 MPs present (out of the total 290), the bill was, however, criticized for its use of “ambiguous” and “not clear-cut” terms and conditions, ISNA reported.

As per the bill, working women who have kids under 6 years of age or children or spouses suffering from a severe disability or rare disease, and breadwinners, who are officially employed or on contract, or commissioned in government and non-governmental sectors, will be allowed to work 36 hours a week for the same salary and benefits of full-time 44-hour-job per week.

“The term ‘severe disability’ has caused confusion and disagreement among MPs, and the chamber has called for a clear and unambiguous definition,” said Ashraf Geramizadegan, director for legal affairs at the Vice-Presidency for Women and Family Affairs.

Meanwhile, Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi, warned on Wednesday that “misinterpretation of the bill would lead to women’s unemployment.”

“The bill will under no circumstances be extended to the general public, and will only apply to women under special conditions,” she noted, allaying concerns voiced by the public on various media following the announcements, reports the Persian-language daily ‘Etemad’.

 Upholds Rights

Geramizadegan stressed that the bill mainly seeks to protect the rights of disabled children to be nurtured by mothers and promote their wellbeing before the age of six, and provide a supportive environment for disabled spouses in line with norms related to consolidating family pillars. The goals are in keeping with national and international laws, and strive to meet the necessities of the modern world. “It is in no way intended as an obstacle for female employment.”

As per the latest report on the labor market published by the Statistical Center of Iran in spring of 2015, unemployment rate of population aged 10 and above stood at 19.2% for women, and 10.8% for men.

Incentives to encourage employers and ensure job safety for women are also mentioned in the bill. As such, Article 2 of the bill states that employers in the government sector “will be given social security insurance premium discounts.”

Another objection to the bill is that the funds to cover employers’ share of insurance is not clear, Geramizadegan added.

The Management and Planning Organization has suggested adding a note to the bill which would prevent private sector employers who also come under the purview of the bill from laying off women or assigning them to a different, or far away location.

The official pledged that the Office of the Vice-Presidency will provide “scientific justification” to clear the objections made to the bill, and meet with the Majlis Social Commission within three weeks following which the bill will be sent to a full session of Parliament before the fiscal year is out (March 19).