Parental leave becomes more inclusive

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Father reading for toddler. Photo courtesy of nappy.

Jamaica is now among the countries that have introduced paid leave for fathers and adoptive parents. Fathers and adoptive parents will be entitled to 20 days of paid leave. New mothers have also been slated into the changes with maternity leave increasing from 40 days to three months. These changes took effect on 1 January 2023. These changes come as a part of the new public sector compensation review which seeks to compensate workers both monetarily and non-monetarily in exchange for the work they do. Additionally, “The new compensation system will support the delivery of high-quality public services, reward performance, promote equity and reward employees competitively.”

While the introduction of paternity leave has been welcomed by some, others are concerned that the intended benefits will not be reaped. In response to the announcement, one social media user said, “Not every man should benefit from this because they will do everything but stay home and assist with the baby”. Another user wrote, “Yea mon. Jamaican man dem get paternity leave now fi go look fi dem odda women dem. Very few baby mothers and young babies will benefit from this”.

Anthony Chambers who will become a first-time father in a few months is welcoming his soon-to-be paternity leave. “I love this move by the government. Growing up, my father wasn’t really there for me. Up to this day, we don’t have a close relationship. So, I think having a paternity leave will be good for me and other fathers to be there for their children even if it’s for a short time”, Chambers said. He also expressed the concern he was having for the mother of his child and her ability to cope with a newborn. “I know it’s going to be very hard on her so, I’m glad that I can be there for her to help out with the baby” he said.

Sharon Thomas also welcomes the introduction of paternity and the extension of maternity leave. “I remember when I had my last child, it was rough taking care of her plus caring for my other children. My husband still had to go to work and he could only be there when he got home. It’s just a pity that this new paternity leave wasn’t a thing back then” Thomas said. She also commended the government for introducing paternity leave because she said it will now allow fathers to be more responsible and active in the lives of their children.

Other countries with paid paternity leave are South Korea, Iceland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, among others. Countries which offer leaves for adoptive families include Australia, Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom.

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