Adoptive mothers to get 90 days leave

Nominated Senator Martha Wangari.Photo/File
Nominated Senator Martha Wangari.Photo/File

Adoptive mothers can take as much as three months paid leave if a bill passed by the Senate is signed into law by President Uhuru Kenyatta. Fathers will get two weeks paid leave.

The Employment (Amendment) Bill 2015 amends the Employment Act to provide for leave by a legally married couple who legally adopt a child.

The bill sponsored by Nominated Senator Martha Wangari was passed on Tuesday and supported by 28 senators.

Kenya has between one million and three million orphans; they live in institutions, on the streets, on work sites, in child-headed "households" and other situations.

The Wangari bill seeks to ensure adopted children receive safeguards and nurturing enjoyed by biological children.

When a woman employee adopts a child under three years, she will be entitled to three months paid leave. If the child is between three and 12 years, she will be entitled to two months paid leave. If the child is older than 12, she is entitled to one month paid leave.

Adoptive fathers will be entitled to two weeks paid leave.

At present mothers are entitled to three months paid leave after the birth of a child and fathers are entitled to two weeks paid leave.

"The Employment Act presently provides for maternity and paternity leave for biological children, but does not provide for adoptive leave," Wangari said. "This means when an employee adopts a child, he or she may not have an opportunity to care for and nurture the child, as in the case of a biological child."

The constitution provides for the rights of children, including the right to parental care and protection, Wangari said. "These rights are to be provided to all children, including adopted ones. This bill seeks to ensure the rights of adopted children are safeguarded."

In November 2014, Kenya banned adoptions by foreigners because of human trafficking.