Gov’t mulls extending maternity leave to address low birth rates

The Turkish government is poised to take action to address the record-low fertility rates by implementing a series of measures, including extending maternity leave to one year, improving salaries and providing nursery or rental support, local media has reported.

According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), the fertility rate in Türkiye, which was 2.38 in 2001, plummeted to 1.51 in 2023, falling below the population replacement threshold of 2.1.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in recent cabinet meetings, has underscored this issue, characterizing the declining birth rates as an "existential threat" and a "catastrophe."

In Türkiye's private sector, female employees currently have 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, split into eight weeks before childbirth and eight weeks thereafter.

Media reports say that Family and Social Services Minister Mahinur Özdemir Göktaş presented potential steps to extend maternity leave to the strategy team of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

However, following the presentation, the AKP officials emphasized that the approach should not be limited to extending maternity leave alone, daily Hürriyet said.

They suggested that global examples should be examined and that tiered government support for second and third children should be considered.

The meeting highlighted the necessity of increasing leave incrementally based on the number of children, as well as providing nursery or rental support and making certain adjustments to women's remuneration and benefits.

The officials underscored the need for a "more comprehensive" study on the matter.

"It is not just about extending maternity leave. Nursery support, employment support, rental assistance — all are...

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