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Elita Chikwati in VICTORIA FALLS—

The National Social Security Authority is finalising two social insurance schemes to take over the remuneration of ill and pregnant workers during their absence from work in a move tailored to bring relief to employers and transform the workplace. Both schemes, to act as safety nets for companies, are expected to bring relief to employers who have been paying salaries and wages to sick workers and pregnant employees, NSSA general manager Mr James Matiza has said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing 41st session of the African Regional Labour Administration Centre Governance Council Meeting and High Level Symposium on Social Protection, Mr Matiza said the national health insurance scheme and the maternity scheme, would increase the coverage of contingencies under the International Labour Organisation from the current four to six.

He said there were cases where some women were threatened with dismissal for going on maternity leave.

“All that will stop because employers and employees will both contribute towards the centralised fund.”

Men will also be contributing towards the fund.

“Whenever someone goes on maternity leave, instead of asking the employer to pay them while they are away, the fund will pay them. This will remove the challenge of employers being unhappy by paying someone who will not be working.”

He said work under the national health scheme was at an advanced stage and a draft Statutory Instrument (SI) had been completed.

“With the national health insurance scheme, we have already done the research and produced papers and presented the principles of the scheme to Cabinet. The principles were accepted. We have gone further to crafting the SI but when the minister was called by some parliamentary committee on health and social welfare during the hyperinflation period, the two committees felt that the economic situation at that time could not allow the implementation of a new scheme and it was suspended.

“We have already written to the new minister (Cde Prisca Mupfumira) advising her on the developments and because of the passage of time, we may have to redo the principles for re-presentation to Cabinet.”

He said all the research work on the national health insurance scheme had been completed.

“For the maternity scheme, we have done the desk research and it has been completed and we are planning to send two officers to neighbouring countries, which are already managing maternity benefits schemes.

“Namibia is already managing that scheme. We would want to see what other countries are doing. We will have to monitor how the health insurance scheme progresses before we start talking about the maternity scheme.”

Mr Matiza said the maternity benefits scheme would benefit women as a centralised fund would pay a lady on maternity leave as opposed to what was happening now where each employer looked after his or her pregnant employees.

The maternity scheme is consistent with the constitutional guarantee of paid maternity leave for women, without any discriminatory conditions in line with the ILO Maternity Protection Convention No 183 of 2000.

The ARLAC meeting is being attended by over 90 delegates comprising ministers, secretaries and labour experts from 19 African countries.

Some of the participants are from Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland and Zambia among others.