Barbadian fathers will soon be getting paid leave from their jobs to help take care of their newborn babies.
The revelation came today from Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations Colin Jordan as the House of Assembly went into the second day of debate on the 2020-2021 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.
He said the leave would be granted under an arrangement similar to what currently obtains for women.
“The paternity leave will be statutory, like maternity leave. It [is] our proposal that it will be paid leave as well. Our proposal further is that it will be taken around the time of birth…, no later than a few months after birth,” Jordan explained.
Responding to fears expressed by Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey that the new system could be abused, he reiterated that the frequency with which paternity leave is taken will mirror what obtains for maternity leave.
“So that the potential for abuse, we believe, will be mitigated. There is still the obligation, for example, to notify the employer at some point in time before that leave is requested; then you outline…the period of time that the leave is needed for,” Jordan stated.
“Our Government as a whole does not believe you defer an action only because it can be abused. We believe that potential abuse should be managed, especially if the action is going to be an action to benefit others. And while there is that view about how Caribbean men or Barbadian men would view paternity leave or the frequency with which they may want to have it, we view paternity leave as helping to change that mindset. We view paternity leave, philosophically, as a provision that says to men and to fathers, ‘you have a role in the raising and rearing and training of your child; you are not just a sperm producer’.”
Jordan disclosed that the relevant Cabinet paper has already been drafted with his Ministry’s proposal on what the pending legislation would look like. He noted that the document has been circulated for comment from the relevant stakeholders.
Without that process completed, and acknowledging there could be amendments, the Labour Minister declined to provide details of the proposed period of paternity leave.
“But there will be paternity leave. There will be…paid time off. So there is the matter of payment and there is also the matter of the protection of your job. So that after they leave, the father still has a job, as obtains currently for mothers,” Jordan told Parliament.
“Under discussion would include matters of adoption in current situations where the father might not be living with the mother. These are all issues that come to the fore when we look at Barbadian society, its evolution, where we are at. What drives us is an understanding that while this is a legislative act, it really has as its underlying philosophy, wanting to change what some perceive to be a mindset that men are just people who go around and drop stuff all over the place and don’t take their responsibility seriously.”.
He said Government did not believe that was the case with most men, and by enacting legislation it was demonstrating its desire to assist men in honouring their responsibility as fathers.
“And coming out of this legislation, we expect to see socially better adapted young people…young people who would have benefited from input from both of their parents; young people who have a better sense of self because they have seen that collaborative input into their rearing; and young people who are better able, therefore, to contribute to the development of society and reduce waywardness in our society,” Jordan stated.