Letters to the Editor

Jamaica can't afford paternity leave

Monday, September 24, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

South Trelawny MP Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert has urged fellow legislators to put in place the framework for paternity leave. "I would want to think that men need paternity leave to support the mothers who have given birth to their children," she said last Tuesday.

This is a well-meaning idea, but by no means original. I recall it being put forward by Danny Roberts, trade unionist, some years ago.

Paternity leave is a common practice in some Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Denmark which have a fair amount of wealth and are among the top-tier countries recommended for people to live and raise families. The main reason - apart from the fact that the father is or should be a necessary component of the parenting process - is to build a stable and humane society. The other driving factor is that these countries have a population problem in reverse where people are not reproducing at an acceptable rate needed to replenish a society with able-bodied persons needed to continue the maintenance, development and growth of a society.

The result is that they end up with an ageing population, so the way to solve that problem is to import able people or create incentives and an environment that encourages reproduction.

Jamaica needs no such incentive. If we legislate paternity leave we may well end up with an overpopulated society.

If Danny Roberts' or MP Dalrymple-Philibert's ideas are to be acted upon, who is going to foot the bill? Would it be the taxpayers, businesses, the men themselves, or could this be another idea to encourage more laziness for Mugabe to add another line to his opinion of Jamaican men?

There is no need for paternity leave in Jamaica. Too many men are already on leave in this underproductive society, where it takes four years of export earnings to pay for one year of imports.

Michael Spence

Kingston 6

micspen2@hotmail.com

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