“‘Don’t worry. It happens sometimes due to paperwork. Meanwhile, borrow some money if you can’ – This is what I was told when I asked the Public Health Fund why my maternity leave payments were overdue. It happened last year after I gave birth to my second child. The money started arriving after a three-month delay. As a single mother with a newborn, this delay became really stressful. I had to borrow money from my parents. I can’t understand how the state could leave me like that when I was at my most vulnerable.”
In North Macedonia, the state fund covers 100% of a mother’s wages during maternity leave. But Lidija Stancevska, 43, from Skopje, told us that mothers are sometimes left penniless before the state’s ‘helping hand’ arrives.
Meanwhile, the country is gearing up for a public debate on extending maternity leave from nine months up to one year. But what good is a formal extension if the cash turns up late?