Vietnamese lawmakers have proposed that maternity leave be increased from the current four months to six months.
The proposal was made Thursday during a meeting of the National Assembly's Standing Committee.
Earlier, the government had proposed in draft amendments to the Labor Law, expected to be passed by the National Assembly in May 2012 that the leave be increased to five months.
Under the NA Standing Committee proposal, all female workers will get maternity leave of six months. However, they can get back to work four months after giving birth on their own will after negotiating it with the employer.
Truong Thi Mai, chairwoman of NA Social Affairs Committee, said the maternity leave of six months that could be flexibly reduced to four months by the employers would be practical.
Female workers will get six months of maternity support (from social insurance agencies) no matter when they decide to return to work.
During the last NA session in May, many deputies had also proposed to increase the maternity leave to six months in order to improve maternal care and the health of new born babies, and to ensure breastfeeding.
Deputies also proposed strict measures against employers who do not allow workers to take the six-month leave.
According to a July 12 report from the Ministry of Health, the percentage of Vietnamese mothers breastfeeding is much lower than the global average. In Vietnam, less than 20 percent of babies are exclusively breastfed during the first six months of life while the world's average rate is one out of three.
Over the last decade the exclusive breastfeeding rate in Vietnam has decreased dramatically - from 34 percent in 1998 to 19 percent in 2010. That means only 17 women out of 100 in Vietnam are exclusively breastfeeding their babies for the critical first six months of life.