The Human Rights Advocacy Centre has lauded the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) for seeking legal redress for two former employees of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS).
The employees were dismissed for getting pregnant within the first three years of their employment.
“We also commend the Accra High Court for upholding the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and other legal obligations, including under international law, by making a landmark decision in the protection of the right of Ghanaian women to work,” the Advocacy Centre said in a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency on Wednesday.
An Accra High Court on April 26, however, ordered the GNFS to pay GH¢100,000.00 as compensation to the employees; Ms Grace Fosu and Ms Thelma Hammond.
The service was to pay GH¢50,000.00 each to the women for the trauma and inevitable inconvenience of the wrongful dismissal.
The Court, presided over by Justice Anthony K. Yeboah, ordered the Service to reinstate the two without prejudice to any benefit that would have accrued to them during the period of their dismissal.
The GNFS is also to pay all arrears of their salaries and benefits that should have accrued to them during the period of dismissal.
The statement, signed by Ms Cynthia Nimo-Ampredu, lauded the decision of the Court, adding; “It does not only protect women’s right to work but has the rippling effect of protecting women’s right to equal work opportunities.
“It also have effect on women’s sexual and reproductive health rights, which must not be subjected to any form of interference, subject only to health implications.
“The right to work is fundamental to the enjoyment of a dignified life for every person. Article 24 of the 1992 Constitution, therefore, reinforces the equality right of all persons to work.
“Article 27 of the Constitution further reinforces women’s right to work by making additional provisions on paid maternity leave and provision of facilities for the care of children under school-going age, to protect women in the work space.”
In the wake of this landmark decision, the Human Rights Advocacy Centre urged that these constitutional stipulations are adhered to by undertaking the necessary reforms and development as well as the implementation of complimentary laws and policies to ensure the full realisation and enjoyment of women’s right to work.
“We, therefore, call for an amendment of the Labour Act 2003 to include provisions on paternity leave and an extension of the maternity leave period from three to six months to allow for a reasonable period of rest before delivery and breastfeeding as well as proper care of new born babies after delivery.
“We also call for improved implementation of the Early Childhood Care and Development Policy, especially in relation to day care centres through standardised curriculum and more trained teachers to ensure quality and holistic development of under school-going age children,” the statement said.
Grace Fosu and Thelma Hammond were dismissed for violating Regulation 33 (6) of the GNFS Conditions of Service.
They proceeded to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice and later to the Human Rights Court, accusing the Service of discriminating against them on the basis of gender.