Fri | Feb 28, 2020

Speid: Give moms extra maternity leave

Published:Thursday | December 5, 2019 | 3:55 AMLeon Jackson/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

The Government has been urged to give an additional month’s maternity leave to mothers instead of offering fathers time off from work.

That call has come from outspoken president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), Owen Speid.

Under Jamaican law, lactating mothers can claim two months’ paid leave, although some private-sector entities compensate them for a third month.

“Paternity leave will only give deadbeat fathers a chance to get leave and do no bonding with the child,” said Speid, who argued that mothers were more naturally inclined to care for and spend quality time with newborns than dads instead of being forced to send babies off to daycare centres after two months to resume work.

“This is further evidence that mothers need the extra month rather than being forced to go back to work early,” said Speid.

INFORMAL SCHOOL SURVEY

Paternity leave has been hotly debated in Jamaica in recent months, as some companies have instituted the benefit because they say that new dads have a role in bonding with newborns and assisting mothers as they recover from childbirth.

Speid noted that during a recent tour of schools across the island, he ran an informal survey among members of the teachers’ union and found overwhelming support of his position.

“At Port Antonio High School, a teacher told me of her experience and how an extra month with pay would have made a big difference to her,” the JTA president said.

Speid’s lack of support for paternity leave is in sync with the views of Dr Raymoth Notice, a former mayor of Spanish Town and a long-serving prison doctor.

“I would only support it where the father is in a stable relationship, preferably in marriage. The Jamaican fathers in the main would need three leaves per year. That does not make sense,” Notice was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Audrey Barrett, principal of Rio Bueno Primary in Trelawny, believes that paternity leave is worth considering.

“I remember when my children were born, my husband took time off to be at home with me and the baby. I found it very beneficial,” she said.

“It is a good thing, especially for those mothers who get depressed after childbirth.”

editorial@gleanerjm.com