Proposed legislation to allow foreigners in Rwandan government roles and extend parental leave

By Esther Muhozi
On 8 May 2024 at 11:17

The proposed legislation drafted by Parliamentarian Odette Uwamariya suggests that in the future, foreigners may be permitted to work in government institutions, and the provision of emergency leave for public servants who have given birth or suffered a loss could be extended.

Deputy Uwamariya introduced and presented this proposal to the General Assembly of the Chamber of Deputies on May 6, 2024.

Deputy Uwamariya explained that she initiated this proposal because the current law governing the general status of government employees does not specify how foreigners can be employed in government sectors, and states that only Rwandans are allowed to work in these roles.

However, the government has often sought to employ foreigners with special expertise, particularly in areas vital to the country’s welfare and economy.

The proposal specifies that "a government entity may employ a foreigner in accordance with the provisions of a Ministerial Order responsible for government employees."

Additionally, the proposal extends maternity leave for women from 12 to 14 weeks and paternity leave for men whose wives have given birth to seven consecutive days.

Deputy Uwamariya stated, "These changes are intended to align with the labor law in Rwanda and international labor agreements, to provide adequate time for a woman to recover and breastfeed her child."

The proposed changes regarding maternity leave, emergency leave, and leave granted when a premature baby is born, a baby dies, or a pregnancy is terminated, will be determined by a Ministerial Order from the minister responsible for public service and labour.

Deputy Rukurwabyoma noted that changes have been made in the past, but it was necessary to allow foreigners to work for the government without first becoming Rwandan citizens.

He argued, "Exclusion should not occur in government jobs for unclear reasons. However, other aspects still need to be studied. Have you seen the days given to men? From four to seven days? A mother is still weak, and a man is hustling to see if the porridge can cook quickly. Men, we should also demand these seven days and say they are not enough. Doubling it would be better, so one can return to work saying that the wife is starting to feel better."

Deputy Uwamariya highlighted that granting foreigners the right to work in government sectors would facilitate the transfer of knowledge to Rwandans.

She added, "They will be working with Rwandan children, which helps ensure that this knowledge is retained by our people when they are gone, aiding in building strong operational practices."

Deputy Léonard Ndagijimana pointed out the difficulties some women face during childbirth, which should warrant extended emergency leave compared to what is proposed.

He explained, "When it comes to fistulas, it is a complication that could even keep a woman incapacitated for eight months. When drafting this order, they should consider a woman with a fistula as incapable of working. Men should not be given just seven days, as for this issue, it would be possible for a husband to also take 30 days."

This proposal will be reviewed by the Committee of Chairpersons as the commission previously responsible for it has other duties yet the matter is urgent.

Deputy Uwamariya highlighted that granting foreigners the right to work in government sectors would facilitate the transfer of knowledge to Rwandans.