KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica (HRMAJ) says it welcomes the recent announcement by Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange, that consultation with stakeholders in relation to the implementation of a National Paternity Leave Policy (NPL) for Jamaica will be conducted over the next few months.
President of HRMAJ, Karl Williams, noted in a release this afternoon that the association is in full support of a Paternity Leave Policy, as he believes that fathers should be as integral as mothers in the early stages of child-rearing, as well as be a part of all the other important processes following childbirth, which are experienced by mothers who currently enjoy maternity leave.
“The introduction of a 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 new born 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 a mother with a minimum of eight weeks paid maternity leave, subject to her satisfying the eligibility criteria.
Williams pointed to the evolution of the movement of the traditional roles of males as breadwinners and females as caregivers, positing that a 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 child care 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.
The HRMAJ also highlighted that based on longitudinal research/ studies (JA Kids Study, UWI, 2011) on child development in Jamaica the benefits of a NPL policy implementation will outweigh the costs, and 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 also captured feedback from Jamaican adult males (18 years and older) 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.