Civil servants happy with January 1 start of new paternity leave
President of JCSA Oneil Grant

HEAD of the Jamaica Civil Service Association Oneil Grant has hailed the promised implementation of paternity leave, family leave, and increased maternity leave come January 2023, which he says was advocated for by the union.

Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke in July this year said the Government would be updating the Public Sector Staff Orders of 2004 to increase maternity leave from 40 days to three calendar months, introduce paternity leave for the first time in the public service for fathers of newborns, and introduce family leave for adoptive parents who are bringing a new child into the home.

Tuesday, the JCSA head, speaking during the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service's civil service public forum in honour of Civil Service Week, said the development was one the JCSA campaigned for coming out of its 100th-year celebrations.

"It had a men's forum, and coming out of that men's forum we started advocacy for the establishment of parental leave in the public sector — and it is with great pride and happiness, or should you say joy, that come January morning we are going to see it in full effect in the public sector," Grant said.

According to Grant, "the constant refrain we have is reform and transform". Furthermore, he said the association, which has members positioned everywhere in public administration, is the consummate partner and stakeholder in the transformation process.

On Tuesday, minister of state in the Ministry of Finance Marsha Smith said the introduction of the changes were part of the Government's thrust to modernise the public sector in "a real way".

Just last month, heads of two of the island's trade unions called on Government to complete the consultations to thrash out the finer points of the arrangements.

President of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union Senator Kavan Gayle, speaking with the Jamaica Observer then, said the idea had come from the unions during the discussions on the planned public sector compensation review. He said since the announcement there has been silence.

"For me, he [Clarke] can take paternity for it, because once you announce it, you would have committed to it. In terms of the consultations now in terms of how it will work, to what extent of it, we have not yet had those discussions. It is our anticipation and expectation that such discussions will take place with the minister," Gayle told the Observer.

He said the BITU was expecting Government will provide a policy direction during those talks to enable it to examine and make its own proposals and amendments, if necessary.

President of the Union of Clerical Administrative and Supervisory Employees (UCASE) Vincent Morrison Vincent Morrison, who also called for those consultations to begin, said, "too many workers across Jamaica in all the sectors have been having challenges with maternity leave".

"We have a Parliament that passes these Acts and what Parliament does is supposed to be supreme; and this is our problem in Jamaica — we are always doing things in a backwards fashion."

Alicia Dunkley-Willis

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