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Gov't urged to speed up paternity leave legislation

Sunday, January 13, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Head of the Hugh Shearer Labour Studies Institute, Danny Roberts, is calling on the Government to speed-up the passage of legislation necessary to provide a statutory right to paternity leave for Jamaican men at the workplace.

He noted that paternity leave provisions are becoming more common across the globe and reflect evolving views about the importance of fatherhood in a child's development.

Roberts made the call for the speeding up of the legislation on Sexual Harassment and Occupational Safety and Health as this year marks the centennial celebrations of the International Labour Organisation and the 100 anniversary of the passing of the Trade Union Act of 1919.

He said the year should also be used to review a number of other labour legislations, including the Maternity Leave Law, where ILO standards now set the minimum period at 14 weeks, and the Labour Relations Code to strengthen the procedural measures relevant to disciplinary procedures.

According to Roberts, enshrining a statutory right to paid paternity leave by way of legislation would signal the value the government places on the care work of women and men and would help to advance gender equality.

Noting that in the last 20 years, 38 countries have adopted provisions relating to paternity leave, Roberts argued that both the Sexual Harassment and Occupational Safety and Health legislations have been in long periods of gestation, and the need to have the passing of laws and regulations to strengthen the framework for decent work and human dignity would be a fitting tribute to the early pioneers of the struggles in 1919 to decriminalise trade unions and grant workers the right to freedom of association, and ultimately, the right to collective bargaining.

Roberts added that the key stakeholders in public sector management must own the transformation process going forward and accelerate the pace of public sector reform.

He said that the transitional phase of the transformation process is necessary to effectively build on the early achievements in the areas of policy reform, revised procedures and practice and technological upgrade.

Roberts ended his statement reiterating the call for the government to prioritise the implementation of inclusive legislations and policy frameworks for comprehensive work-family policies, with provision for adequate fiscal space.


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