Prime Minister Hun Sen announced the launch of a new policy, saying that the government would assist pregnant factory workers until their children reach two years of age.

The announcement came on May 22, as he met with workers at an “achievement fair” in the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ), on the sidelines of an inauguration ceremony for a Chinese-owned new tyre factory, to mark the 10th anniversary of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Hun Sen noted that the policy will apply to workers at all factories and manufacturing enterprises in the formal economy – that is, those recongised by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training.

The premier stressed that the offer is a concrete policy and not an empty promise.

“As we roll out social protection policies, I have decided to prioritise pregnant women and new mothers. They will be entitled to three months maternity leave and 120 per cent of their salaries,” he said.

He also advised the Ministry of Economy and Finance to examine the possibility of providing a further 40,000 riel ($10) payment for pre-natal checkups.

Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC) president Ath Thorn said he was pleased to see the government providing cash assistance to women giving birth, noting that social security policies have improved.

He urged the government to pay attention to other areas of concern, such as labour rights and wage increases, adding that he would like to see social protection schemes applied across all sectors of the economy.

Chhour Sopanha, director of the Department of Social Welfare, said on May 22 that working groups from the ministries of finance and labour, along with the General Secretariat of the National Social Protection Council (NSPC), are planning to meet and examine the most efficient way of putting the new policy in place.

“He recommended four cash payments before birth and 10 thereafter. We have old sub-decrees and mechanisms that we can use to do so,” he said.

Hun Sen explained that the payments would not harm the economy but would improve the health and development of the Kingdom’s workforce.