The Senate on Monday passed the Maternity and Paternity Leave Bill, 2018, which makes it mandatory for employers to grant 6-month paid maternity leave and 3-month paid paternity leave. As per the bill, the leaves policy will be applicable in both public and private establishments in the federal capital territory. The bill, presented by Senator Quratulain Marri, was passed with a majority of votes, even as government senators opposed the move. It will now be sent to the National Assembly for debate. “The employees of every establishment shall be provided six-months paid maternity and three-months paternity leave as and when applied by employees, separately from their leave account, commencing from the date as applied by the applicant in the application and supported by a medical certificate,” reads the bill. Besides, the bill also provides for additional three-month maternity leave and one-month paternity leave, both of which would be unpaid. The provision for paternity leave “seeks to provide fathers the opportunity to be there at a crucial time without the added responsibility of the workplace,” the bill states, adding that, “the early close relationship between father and child has long-term implications.” Addressing the session on Monday, Senator Marri lamented that female employees weren’t given maternity leave in the public sector. Even in the Senate, women are told not to produce so many children, she added. Not everyone was in favour of the bill, however, with government lawmakers questioning its utility, given there was already a provision for maternity leaves in the law. Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar, while opposing the bill, said that there was already a law to give 90-day maternity leave to female employees, while male government employees could avail 48-day leaves in a year. Azhar suggested lowering the number of paternity leaves to 15 days, adding that nowhere in the world was there a provision for these many paternity leaves.