Chuck: No paternity leave if men don’t live with mothers
IF Justice Minister Delroy Chuck were to have his way, Jamaican men would only be granted paternity leave if they are married or living with the mother of their children.
The issue of paternity leave has triggered wide-scale public debate over the last few months. The justice minister has said it could be successfully implemented in Jamaica if a coherent policy is put in place.
“If you want paternity leave, you must be living with the mother for a few months before birth. If it’s your wife, no problem,” Chuck said as he addressed a Ministry of Justice child diversion sensitisation session in Montego Bay, St James, last Wednesday. “If it’s your girlfriend, then you can’t come and say, ‘It’s my child and, therefore, [I am] entitled to paternity leave’, and you not living with the mother. You would be getting paternity leave to do what? Visit her every day?”
Chuck said he wants greater emphasis to be placed on paternal responsibility.
“All I am saying is that the fathers in Jamaica need to take responsibility for the children that they [have] fathered. It is just unfair for the mothers to struggle with these children, and all the fathers believe that they are to do is to send a money. That’s not enough,” he said.
“Most of these children need love and attention, and if those children had love and attention, they wouldn’t be at the corner with the gangs becoming criminals, causing us to have this programme of child diversion, “ the justice minister added.
In July, telecommunications firm FLOW announced a new policy of paid leave for fathers, adoptive and foster parents, and extended time-off for mothers.
The company’s new policy provides 16 weeks of paid leave for birth mothers and eight weeks of paid leave for fathers, adoptive and foster parents, as well as any employee who becomes a surrogate parent.
Cigarette trader Carreras Ltd also introduced paternity leave and an increase in the time for maternity leave in August, joining a select few corporate companies to do so.
Carerras allows a father three weeks’ paternity leave per child. It also increased the maternity leave period from the standard 12 weeks to 16 weeks.