In July of last year, Jamaicans welcomed the announcement of paid paternity leave for public-sector workers by Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke.
Paternity leave with pay for fathers of newborns in the public sector and adoption leave for parents adopting and bringing a new child into the home came into effect on January 1 of this year.Read more: Sygnus encourages other private companies to implement paternity leave
The policy means both categories will be eligible for 20 working days leave with pay.
With the implementation of the policy, fathers and adopting parents in the public sector will be able to spend more time with new members of their family.
Sygnus ahead of the game
Sygnus Capital Limited is one of the first Jamaican private sector organisations to have implemented a paid paternity leave policy into their human resource plan.
Since the inception of the company back in 2016, paternity leave has been available to Sygnus employees.
Our Today spoke with Anadeen Nembhard, head of people, culture and talent management at Sygnus, who shared that the shift aligns with the global awareness and acknowledgment of the importance of implementing paternity leave policies.
“It’s an industry best standard, both local and international. Companies use it as a benchmark of doing things the right way and so the company wanted to make provision for paternity leave as well,” Nembhard said.
“Employees don’t have to be married in order to benefit from paternity leave. Every male employee who is expecting a child or adopting a child, who has been employed with the organisation for one year, are eligible for three weeks paid paternity leave.”
Nembhard described the policy as being pretty straight forward, while noting that only one employee would have benefited from the policy so far.
Assistant Vice President of Investment Banking at Sygnus, Steven Davis, has been the only father to benefit from the company’s paternity leave policy.
Following the birth of his second daughter, Davis was able to be there for his family immediately after welcoming his baby home, having applied prior for his paternity leave.
“I applied for paternity leave a month before my daughter’s due date. She was delivered by a scheduled C-section. I wanted to be available to support my wife during her healing process and to help my first daughter transition from being an only child to a big sister,” Davis told Our Today.
Nembhard said paternity leave allows fathers to be a part of the bonding process with their newborn.
She also noted that having a practical paternity policy is a conscious effort to address the struggles of working fathers’ being absent from the first month of a baby’s adjustment into the family.
“Paternity leave also encourages a stronger familial setup which is something we want to get back to… paternity will encourage fathers who are welcoming children into the world to know that they are an important part of the pregnancy and birth of the child/children as well.”
Davis can attest to this as he said being able to go on leave allowed all family members to experience the bonding process with the newest member of the family.
“It was for a period of three weeks and during this time I was able to bond with our new baby, take on a lot of the general house maintenance stuff that my wife would usually handle and engage our older daughter while my wife recuperated.”
Davis said he is appreciative of the opportunity to spend time with his family and urged other companies to provide their staff with this opportunity.
“It is a great benefit that I am very grateful to have been able to utilise as the opportunity to have unrestricted time to support my family… I hope that more companies will grant future fathers with this opportunity so that they are able to play a more active role in the newborn stage of their child’s life,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nembhard said the announcement by the Government that it will be granting paternity leave in the public sector is a step in the right direction.
“I think it’s long overdue. The Government is also one of the largest employers and recognising that there is a need there and facilitating that, I think it’s a step in the right direction for us to have world-class standards as it relates to benefits,” she said.
Since the announcement of paid paternity leave, private companies have been urged to consider implementing the policy in their organisation. Nembhard also joined in the call for more private companies to establish paternity leave.