Wed | Jul 17, 2019

Advocates give thumbs-up to FLOW paternity leave plan

Published:Friday | July 12, 2019 | 12:23 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer

A decision by FLOW Jamaica to adjust its parental leave policy to include fathers has been welcomed by stakeholders who have been lobbying for some time.

The new provisions allow for eight weeks of paid parental leave to be accessed by fathers at any time during the first 12 months following the birth of the child.

Fathers Incorporated Chairman Dr Herbert Gayle told The Gleaner yesterday that this was a move in the right direction which would help to address the stereotyping of Jamaican fathers.

“That’s a victory for all of us who have been begging for people to recognise that fathers can partner with mothers; he’s just not an ATM machine, you know,” said Gayle, who is also a social anthropologist.

He said it was important for fathers to bond with their children, especially at the early stages of their lives.

“The sense of trust with people, relating to the opposite sex, is all from girls and their fathers. And you know that with boys now, when you turn to boys, boys get affirmation. They learn from very early what it’s like to be a man … ; they also learn how to compete without conflicts because they are going to be playing games very early with their fathers because fathers play more than mothers,” Gayle said.

Dr Glenda Simms, who has long been an advocate for gender equality, has also lauded the move.

“I can see the logic why men get a shorter time because, as I said, women are the ones who do the breastfeeding and so on, so there are some issues that they are going to be doing, and men are not involved with that. We want men to have some time to spend with their children … . I would say it is the beginning; it is a positive start,” Simms told The Gleaner.

The former executive director of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs said it was time that Jamaica recognised the importance of fathers in the lives of their children.

FLOW’s policy change, which was announced through a press release yesterday, also provides 16 weeks of paid leave for birth mothers, up from 12, for both permanent and temporary members of staff.

Eight weeks of paid leave is provided for birth partners, adoptive and foster parents, as well as any team member who becomes a parent via surrogacy.

nickoy.wilson@gleanerjm.com