Bajan fathers to get parenthood leave

Barbados Labor Minister, Colin Jordan.
Photo by George Alleyne

Men in Barbados will soon get paternity leave to help take care of their spouse’s newborn consistent with the amount of paid time off from the job allowed for women after they give birth.
The proposal is at the stage of Cabinet, and following examination there, government legal drafts persons will be tasked with drawing up legislation to support this move in what officials say should promote a more wholesome family environment.
“Coming out of this legislation, we expect to see socially better adapted young people…young people who would have benefited from input from both of their parents; young people who have a better sense of self because they have seen that collaborative input into their rearing; and young people who are better able, therefore, to contribute to the development of society and reduce waywardness in our society,” said Minister of Labor, Colin Jordan on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
“The paternity leave will be statutory, like maternity leave. It is our proposal that it will be paid leave as well. Our proposal further is that it will be taken around the time of birth … no later than a few months after birth.”
He dismissed the liklihood of male abuse of this provision, explaining that the frequency with which paternity leave is taken will mirror what obtains for maternity leave.
“So that the potential for abuse will be mitigated. There is still the obligation, for example, to notify the employer at some point in time before that leave is requested; then you outline…the period of time that the leave is needed for,” Jordan stated.
Against a backdrop of a common regional perception that Barbadian and other Caribbean men are irresponsible and polymagous, he said an underlying philospohy behind the coming legislation is “wanting to change what some perceive to be a mindset that men are just people who go around and drop stuff all over the place and don’t take their responsibility seriously.”
Jordan made clear that the current Barbadps government did not hold this view and by enacting legislation it was demonstrating a desire to assist men in honouring their responsibility as fathers.
He said that government’s views paternity leave as, “a provision that says to men and to fathers, ‘you have a role in the raising and rearing and training of your child; you are not just a sperm producer’”.
While goverenment is now moving towards legal provision of paid leave for fathers when their spouses give birth, many in society have long been clamouring for this legislation, and the largest phone company on the island last year unilaterally introduced it into employment conditions.
Director of the Bureau of Gender Affairs, Patricia Boyce, has said, “research has shown that father and baby bonding actually improves a father’s ability to care for his children in the long term, and means he is more engaged and involved as a parent.”
She added, “some women and men, particularly some first-time fathers, are often afraid to take up and hold a newborn baby in the very early stages. But research has shown that being a father who is around in the early stages gives lasting confidence in caregiving.”

More from Around NYC