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‘Workplace crèches could save each company JD737,000 on average a year’

Activist calls for removing gender stipulation in Labour Law provision on daycare facilities required at companies

By Laila Azzeh - Sep 04,2016 - Last updated at Sep 05,2016

AMMAN — Crèches at workplaces are not a luxury, but a national necessity amid the “horrifying” unemployment rates among Jordanian women, according to a study conducted by the NGO Sadaqa.

Some 45 per cent of women who leave the labour market in Jordan do so due to “domestic reasons related to the burden of taking care of their children while at work”, the report found.

But crèches could save each company up to JD737,000 on average a year, according to Sadaqa. 

The survey, conducted in cooperation with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and funded by the Norwegian embassy in Jordan, took the telecommunication sector as a case study.

The sector was chosen for the high percentage of women hired in the field, as well as its technological literacy, which assisted the process of conducting the survey, according to Sadaqa. 

The positive contributions of establishing daycare centres outweigh the benefits of not providing crèches, said Yaqoub Shomali, the author of the report.

“It is proven that [providing crèches] results in fewer days off, more productivity and better physiological health,” Shomali said at a press conference to launch the report on Sunday. 

The report found that employees considered daycare services to be the most important benefit they could receive at their workplaces.  

“The value of daycare was hailed more by married and educated women, the same groups that suffer the most in today’s labour market,” he said, adding that daycare services were found to be the most important attributes in the workplace. 

“Daycare took precedence over extended paid maternity leave, equal pay for equal work and flexible working hours,” he said, citing the study. 

Shomali added that the surveyed employees were willing to pay JD52 per month on average for daycare centres at their companies. 

“For the two companies surveyed, the study showed that having crèches would bring annual savings of around JD737, 000 for each company,” he highlighted. 

To this end, Shomali underlined the need to rebrand daycare services to be considered as a “public good” in their ability to increase women’s participation in the economy. 

According to the ILO, increasing women’s economic participation in Jordan — which stood at 13.3 per cent in 2015 — could boost the gross domestic product by $2 billion a year. 

On the other hand, Sadaqa called for amending and activating Article 72 of the Labour Law, which requires companies that employ 20 or more women with a total of 10 children under the age of four to provide an adequate daycare centre supervised by trained personnel in the workplace. 

“Restricting the law to women employees made companies reluctant to employ women, which increased unemployment among them,” noted Shomali. 

He underlined the need to remove the gender stipulation in Article 72 to affirm that childcare is a “gender-neutral responsibility”.

The study suggested linking the obligation to establish daycare centres at the workplace to the number of children, rather than the number of women, and allowing these services by a consortium of businesses. 

“While we insist that business owners comply with Article 72, we understand the different complexities that impede the establishment of daycares at the workplace,” said Randa Nafaa, Sadaqa’s founding member.

To address these issues, she suggested employing “creative solutions” such as “joint daycares in one geographical location, or raising the capacity of cooperatives and community-based organisations to provide this service”. 

Shomali introduced examples of countries whose governments have enacted policies that encourage companies to invest in crèches rather than perceiving them as a financial burden, such as offering tax reductions and financial support. 

Stressing the significance of the survey, ILO consultant Reem Aslan noted that there is an “urgent need for such a study to convince decision and policymakers of the importance of taking steps to provide nurseries for working families in Jordan”. 

Several companies and organisations were recognised during the event for their efforts in establishing daycare facilities in their workspaces, and for finding creative solutions for their employees. 

They included: Petra University, Al Zaytouneh University of Jordan, the German-Jordanian University, Asamia International School, International Leaders Academy, MAS Apparel Manufacturing Company, Optimiza, the Ministry of Social Development, the ICT Ministry and Dar Al Handasah.

 

Sadaqa was launched as a campaign in 2011 and in 2012 was registered as a non-profit organisation mobilising a wide group of activists advocating for a work-friendly environment in compliance with Article 72 of the Labour Law and with the aim of increasing women’s economic participation in Jordan.

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