Updates to Maternity and Paternity Benefits
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Adjusting to parenthood can be overwhelming, for both parents. Thankfully, such more needed legislative changes to improve parenting benefits are on the horizon.
The Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport announced recently that “the consolidation and modernization of the labour legislation […] has been ongoing for some five years”. After “extensive consultation with key stakeholders”, the Minister has tabled the amending legislation before the House of Assembly. MJM was pleased to participate in the consultation making a number of suggestions as to how our employment legislation could be improved, including increased maternity and the introduction of paternity benefits.
Currently the Employment Act 2000 (the “Act”) provides maternity leave for “a period of twelve weeks, consisting of eight weeks paid leave and four weeks unpaid leave” for those who have “completed at least one year of continuous employment or will have done so by the expected date of delivery”. The Act is silent on paternity leave, but in some cases employers provide five (5) days to newly minted fathers. The terms of pay (with or without) vary by employer.
The significant changes to the Act are said to include:
- increased paid maternity leave from eight (8) weeks to thirteen (13) weeks for employees who have been employed for one continuous year,
- increased unpaid maternity leave from eight (8) weeks to thirteen (13) weeks for employees who have not been employed for one continuous year,
- provision for five (5) paid days paternity leave for employees who have been employed for one continuous year, and
- provision for five (5) unpaid days of paternity leave for employees who have not been employed for one continuous year.
No changes have been mentioned in respect of additional unpaid leave beyond the four unpaid weeks already granted for maternity leave for employees who have been employed for one continuous year or any additional unpaid time for paternity leave.
Should you require further information with employment and immigration related matters, MJM’s Employment and Immigration team can assist on a broad range of employment matters inclusive of contract reviews, severance packages, disputes and labour issues.