Employers, here is how to navigate maternity & paternity leave in Nigeria

Parental Leave in Nigeria

Each year in Nigeria, at least 7 million babies are born.

Professionally, this means 7 million potential instances of women and men needing leave across Nigerian workplaces.

As a new company, or as an employer about to manage maternity and paternity leave for employees for the very first time, here is everything you need to know about maintaining compliance with labor law regulations, issues companies typically face, and your responsibilities as an employer:  

Statutory maternity and paternity leave in Nigeria

What exactly are maternity and paternity leave?

Maternity and paternity leave usually represent paid time off that employees are entitled to before, upon, and after the birth of their child.

Maternity leave

In Nigeria, labor law states that upon presentation of a medical document, women are entitled to 12 weeks’ maternity leave, 6 of which should be taken before the delivery, and the remaining 6 of which must be taken after. During these 12 weeks, female employees should receive 50% of their salary. These are the minimum terms that employers must respect. Should they wish to, employers may provide more than the required leave time, or even compensate their employees fully during their maternity leave.

The main reason why employers choose to do this is to adhere to company-wide standards, and to give all their employees across the world the same benefits.

Exceptions, common issues, FAQs


In Nigeria, female civil servants are entitled to 4 more weeks of maternity leave than private workers, for a total of 16 weeks of maternity leave: 8 before delivery and 8 after.


Who benefits from maternity leave in Nigeria?

Female employees in employment for at least 6 months are entitled to statutory maternity leave in Nigeria. But once again, should employers wish to extend this benefit to employees from Day 1, they are fully at liberty to do so.

Can maternity leave be extended in Nigeria?

Maternity leave can be extended at an employee’s request, and if the employer agrees to this request. However, upon presentation of a medical document stating that the employee cannot be expected to perform their duties, employees can make use of their sick leave – or find an agreement with their employer.

How many times a year can someone take maternity leave in Nigeria?

During any one year, a woman may only, at most, require maternity leave on two separate occasions. Naturally, it follows that maternity leave can only be taken on these occasions.

Is there monetary compensation for unused maternity leave?

There is no monetary compensation for unused maternity leave in Nigeria.

Can maternity leave be carried over?

Maternity leave cannot be carried over in Nigeria. Any available leave must be used during the aforementioned time periods: that is 6/8 weeks before and after the delivery.

Can female employees take maternity and annual leave at the same time?

There is no law in Nigeria that says that the two are mutually exclusive.

That being said, like any other type of annual leave, annual leave taken together with maternity leave can be denied if the timing threatens business continuity, for example.

Law about breastfeeding

The Nigerian Labor Act provides that any employee nursing her child should be permitted half an hour, twice a day during working hours, to nurse her child.

Adopting a child

So far, maternity leave has only applied to women who carry and delivery their own biological children, as opposed to adopting a child.

Common issues

Some unscrupulous employers, upon learning of a female employee’s pregnancy, may choose to terminate her so as not to pay any benefits.

If the sole reason for termination is the employee’s pregnancy, the employer commits a grave offence against the employee, violating labor law. This exposes the employer to lawsuits and heavy fines, as well as a near irreparable corporate image.

Paternity leave

In Nigeria, there is no statutory paternity leave for men. Workers in Nigeria are not entitled to any paid leave days to take care of their child whether it is before or after delivery.

Naturally, if an employer wishes to extend paternity leave as a benefit to its male employees, they may do so at their discretion (all the while maintaining fairness: for example, extending the offer of paternity leave to all concerned employees, as opposed to a handpicked few).


In Nigeria, male Federal Civil Service workers have gained access to a 14-day paternity leave, granted by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Male staff members of certain state governments, such as the states of Enugu and Lagos, are also eligible for paternity leave.

In Enugu State, paternity leave lasts for 3 weeks, however in Lagos State, it lasts for 2 weeks and is only applicable to the employee’s first 2 children.

Navigate employee leave and benefits with Africa HR Solutions

Africa HR Solutions is an EOR, PEO, and payroll provider present in 45+ African countries. Their expertise in local labor law, as well as their sophisticated Employee Self-Service System, lift the burden of compliance from clients’ shoulders. Find out more about Africa HR Solutions here.

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