Already back in 2015, Kosovo Women’s Network (KWN) conducted a research on the effects of Kosovo’s current Law on Labour on women’s participation in the labour market. More specifically, this research looked more closely to maternity leave provisions within this law and the financial burden that these have on employers and the extent of discrimination against women in hiring or at work exists. After two years of forming partnerships with different organizations and together forming Women’s Economic Forum to advocate for leave provisions to change, Iliriana Banjska from KWN took part in a two day workshop organized by Democracy for Development (D4D) in which the joint comments provided on the first draft of the new Law on Labour were presented to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MLSW).
D4D presented the joint recommendations put together in part also by KWN and the research findings on which these are based on. The most important input which civil society with the support of the Union of Independent Trade Unions of Kosovo has put forward is a revised model for maternity, paternity and parental leave. The model proposed offers families a total of 13 months of leave. This includes eight months for the mother; four months of maternity leave paid at 70% of her monthly wage by the employer and 4 months of parental leave paid at 50% of the average wage in Kosovo paid by the government. For fathers, this model offers fathers a total of 5 months of leave, which includes one month of paternal leave paid at 70% of his monthly wage paid by the employer and four months of parental leave paid at 50% of the average wage in Kosovo paid by the government.
Arguments were made by civil society representatives that a model like this will contribute to gender equality in Kosovo as families will have a financial incentive to share child care responsibilities. This can shift traditional gender norms with regard to family and work and facilitate an increase in women’s employment rates. As research done by KWN, D4D and Institute Riinvest has shown, the current financial burden business owners currently face because of lengthy maternity leave provisions has resulted in employers preferring to hire men over women. This is also one of the key reasons why the proposed model seeks to relieve employers substantially from the current costs of maternity leave and create more balance in how much leave a woman and a men can take up. This will contribute to decreasing gender discrimination in hiring because both women and men will have equal leave rights, potentially costing an employer the exact same amount.
Minister of MLSW, Mr. Skender Reçica welcomed everybody and praised KWN and other representatives from civil society and the Union of Independent Trade Unions of Kosovo present at the workshop for the work done in this direction and entered in a dialogue with the participants on issues of maternity, paternity and parental leave. The discussion proved to be very heated as there seemed to be misunderstandings in relation to the aims of the proposed model among different officials. However, some common goals as finding ways in which to increase the number of employed women in Kosovo were identified and agreements were made to collaborate in this direction.