Maternity Leave in Iran

Employed women are entitled to nine-months of paid leave in case of child birth. At least 3 months of this leave period should be after child birth, and the rest could be taken during pregnancy. Two-thirds of the salary is paid by the Social Security Organization during this period; however, employers also have certain commitments during this period. For instance, new year bonus, severance payment, family-costs bonus, etc. should be paid by the employer.

A peculiar problem arises in this respect. Child-birth leave entitlement has two main purposes: 1. To increase the job security of prospective mothers, 2. To encourage fertility by removing job security concerns for prospective mothers. Indeed, in 2013, as a measure to boost fertility rates in Iran, maternity leave was increased from 6 to 9 months. The problem is, unfortunately, most employment agreements in Iran are short-term agreements, and once a female employee takes a maternity leave, the employer will likely fill her position by a new recruitment and will not renew her agreement. This defeats the purpose of the protective law. In order to combat this possibility, in 2014 the Ministry of Labor introduced a new by-law, according to which employees couldn’t fire a female employee until 2 years after child-birth. Or in other words, in case of child birth, the mother’s employment agreement would automatically extend until the child reaches the age of two. However, in 2017, the Administrative Court of Justice in its decision No. 482 quashed this by-law, as the issue should have been dealt by the legislative, and the Ministry was not authorized to impose such a commitment on employers.

Now, the question is, what happens of the employees work agreement expires during the maternity leave period? Is she still entitled to maternity payment? Are the employers still obliged to pay the aforementioned auxiliary payment although they no longer have an employment agreement with the employee? The existing laws, are a little vague on this issue, however as labor laws should be interpreted in the employee’s favor, in practice, the employee receives her salary during this 9-month period regardless of the expiry date of her work agreement. In practice, the employers should still include the new mother in their payroll list when reporting to the Social Security Organization and they have to pay the aforementioned auxiliary payments. Therefore, in a sense, the employment agreement is tacitly extended until the end of leave period.

Submitted by Dr. Mahnaz Mehrinfar & Dr. Shahin Fadakar