Maternity leave is the period of absence from work given to a mother before and after delivery.

In Nigeria, the constitutional maternity leave period is 3 months but was recently imcreased to 4 months by the Federal Government of Nigeria. But the Nigeria Labour Congress, Civil Society Organisations and other advocacy groups are pressing the Government of Nigeria for maternity leave of 6 months to ensure exclusive breast feeding and promote mother-child bonding.

Right now, 3 states have passed laws and executive allowing a 6 months leave for nursing mothers.

They are:

1. Kaduna

During his swearing in ceremony on May 29, 2019; the governor of Kaduna state Mallam Nasir El-rufai declared that him and his cabinet has decided to increase the 4 months maternity leave to 6 months in order to make nursing mothers exclusively breast feed their babies and to reduce infant diseases and mortality.

“I am pleased to announce that, just yesterday (Tuesday), our State Executive Council approved six months maternity leave for our female public servants.

“This encourages the healthy development of infants through prolonged breastfeeding, among other benefits. Mothers in our state are also reminded that children up to the age of five get free, regular medical check-ups in public hospitals. Please take advantage of this,” he said.


The then governor of Lagos state in 2014, Babatunde Raji Fashola, ably represented by the then Head of Service announced to Lagos state civil servants the extension of maternity leave from 3 months to 6 months and the approval of a-10 day paternity leave for fathers. She cited exclusive breast feeding and maternal-child bonding as reasons for the decision.

Then Head of Service, Mrs. Oluseyi Williams, who spoke with reporters in Alausa, said the maternity leave would be with full pay in the case of first two deliveries.

She said government was concerned about the trend that parents spend more time at work at the expense of the home front.

She said: “Medical science has also proved that the first few months of a child’s life has a great deal to play in the latter development of that child physically, mentally and emotionally.

“However, at six months, that is 24 weeks, a baby is considered strong enough to be left in a decent crèche for proper care having gone through close affection and nurturing by the mother for those important and delicate first few months of his or her life”.

She expressed optimism that the new leave policy expected to take effect immediately would advance a balanced family-work life, “with the ultimate intent of having future leader who, as neonates, had enjoyed parental care and affection”.

Outlining the health benefit of the new policy, then Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Health, Dr. Yewande Adeshina, said aside the opportunity it presents for mother and child to enjoy emotional and social bond, the advocacy for six months exclusive breastfeeding can now be achieved without any hindrance.

3. In Enugu, it is 6 months maternity leave and 3 weeks paternity leave

In 2015, the governor of Enugu state, introduced a 6 months maternity leave for female civil servants and 3 weeks paternity leave for males civil servants whose wives put to bed.

As gathered then by ConnectNigeria, the state government announced this following the amendment of its Civil Service rules. According to the state government, the paternity leave was meant to give husbands the opportunity to support their nursing wives.

Female workers who gave birth were before now only entitled to three months maternity leave.

The amendment of the civil service rules also granted nursing mothers the freedom to breastfeed their babies in the office during office hours.

This was disclosed by the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sam Ngwu, in Enugu on Wednesday, while unveiling plans for the 2015 Breastfeeding Week, adding that the new policy would strengthen the family as a social unit and also promote mother and child welfare.

The commissioner explained that the extension of the maternity leave would encourage nursing mothers in the state to engage in the internationally recommended four to six months exclusive breast feeding of newborn babies.

I hope more states and the federal government will copy from these 3 states.

Maternity Leave
El-rufai tweets

4. Ekiti

In February 2020, the Governor of Ekiti State, John Kayode Fayemi approved compulsory 6 months maternity leave for women in the state’s civil service. Fayemi said the policy is aimed at “reducing maternal and child mortality ” and promoting “the rights of women and children”.

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