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HRMAJ supports a national paternity-leave policy

Published:Friday | January 11, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Karl Williams, president, Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica.

The Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica (HRMAJ) has welcomed the recent announcement by Olivia Grange, minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport, that consultation with stakeholders in relation to the development and implementation of a national paternity-leave policy (NPL) for Jamaica will be conducted over the next few months.

President of the HRMAJ, Karl Williams, noted that the association is in full support of a paternity-leave policy, as he believes that fathers are as integral as mothers in the early stages of child-rearing and should be part of all the other important processes following childbirth that are experienced by mothers who currently enjoy maternity leave.

"The introduction of an NPL policy would constitute a significant advancement in gender equality, which would benefit both parents and child since it would allow for bonding with the newborn and increase the probability of the father's sustained support/influence in the child's development," Williams noted.

Currently, the Maternity Leave Act (1979) provides mothers with a minimum of eight weeks of paid maternity leave, subject to satisfying the eligibility criteria.

Williams pointed to the evolution of the traditional roles of males as breadwinners and females as caregivers, positing that an NPL policy would be an appropriate response to the workforce dynamics in which an increasing number of women within the child-bearing age group are employed at various levels in organisations.

"Having a national paternity-leave policy would be an important provision to encourage fathers to share childcare responsibilities. This policy would, therefore, be a positive step in the right direction, not only from a national perspective, but also in support of building up family structures", Williams added.

Based on longitudinal research (the JA Kids Study, UWI, 2011) on child development in Jamaica, the benefits of NPL policy implemen-tation will outweigh the cost. Firms investing in this benefit will reap dividends in terms of improved branding, employee productivity, and employee engagement and retention.

A recent survey administered by HRMAJ captured feedback from Jamaican adult males on whether Jamaica needs a national paternity-leave policy. Ninety-eight per cent of the 176 respondents indicated that Jamaica should have a national paternity-leave policy.