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Lawmakers consider bill seeking 5-month paid leave for widows

Lawmakers consider bill seeking 5-month paid leave for widows

A bill seeking to provide a five-month leave for a widow and 30 days for a widower on Tuesday passed the second reading at the house of representatives.


The leave is to enable the widow and widower to “mourn the deceased spouse and make immediate arrangements for the challenges”.

The bill is sponsored by Saidu Abdullahi, deputy chairman of the committee on finance and lawmaker representing the Bida/Gbako/Katcha federal constituency of Niger state.


According to TheCable, Clause one of the bill proposes that a widow is entitled to a five-month widowhood leave, while a widower is also entitled to one-month leave “both with full pay”.

Clause two states that the widow and widower leave “shall apply to employees” of both public and private sectors of the federation.

Clause four stipulates that a chief executive of a private or public sector or his/her representative who violates the provision of this bill shall be liable to be penalised by the regulatory body, supervising ministry or institution, head of the civil service of the federation or a state, and secretary to the government of the federation or a state.

The bill does not provide clear punishments for would-be violators of the proposed law.
While leading the debate on the bill, Abdullahi said widows and widowers in the country face “numerous challenges” following the loss of their spouses.

“They are often left to single-handedly care for their children and attend to pressing family matters,” he said.

The lawmaker said the “crucial piece of legislation” aims to address the pressing issue of supporting individuals who have lost their spouses, helping them navigate the challenging period.

Justifying the provisions of the bill, the lawmaker said widowhood legislation has been enacted in many countries around the world.

He said widows are entitled to 15 days of paid leave in India and 60 days with pay in the Philippines.

The legislator said the Nigerian Labour Act, 2004, does not explicitly provide for any form of leave that covers widowhood leave, stressing the need to review the law.

“However, despite this lacuna in the law, organisations around the country make provision for bereavement leave, a time off work given to employees when faced with the death of spouses,” Abdullahi said.

“In fact, some organisations go a step further to offer some form of financial support formally and informally.”

He added that findings show that public sector organisations in the country grant bereavement leave for 14 days.

“This is no doubt derived from the public sector rules which state in clause 100230 that ‘an officer may be allowed special leave from duty on full pay on compassionate ground for a period up to two weeks for the burial of spouse/child/parents/parents of spouse’. Considering that in countries like Australia and Brazil, bereavement leave is typically two days, and in countries like Canada, France, Spain, and the US, it is usually three days,” he said.

“Therefore, one may say the 14 days prescribed by public sector rules is sufficient but when one looks at the prevalent cultural and religious practices of Nigeria, it seems inadequate.

“It is always necessary that an organisation looks at the cultural context as the way people mourn is deeply rooted in culture.

“In Eastern Nigeria, for instance, the burial of the deceased usually takes place after a few weeks or months, depending on the family, and the mourning period for a widow in modern times is three months even though traditionally it is up to a year.

“In Islam, while mourning is usually three days, the waiting period for a widow is up to four months. During this period, the bereaved spouse receives visitors for at least a month.

“Therefore, with our culture in view, giving a widower 30 days and a widow five months of widowhood leave for the death of a spouse may be reasonable.”

Speaking in support of the bill, Ademorin Kuje, a lawmaker from Lagos, said the bill will give legal backing to traditional practices in the country.

The bill was unanimously voted for when it was put to a voice vote by Tajudeen Abbas, speaker of the house.