Column: Maternity & Paternity Leave Reform

December 19, 2019 | 11 Comments

[Opinion column written by MP Tinee Furbert]

In the Progressive Labour Party’s 2017 Election Platform, our party promised to extend paid maternity leave and introduce paid paternity leave.

Recently, in the House of Assembly, I was proud to see that promised fulfilled with the passage of the Government’s Employment [Maternity Leave Extension and Paternity Leave] Amendment Act 2019. To us, the family is everything and whenever we can we will seek to use the trust you have placed in us to improve the lives of our Bermudian families

Our reform of Maternity Leave and the introduction of Paternity Leave means:

Paid maternity leave [for a mother employed at a company for at least 12 months] increases from 8 weeks paid leave to 13 weeks paid leave

Paid paternity leave [for a father employed at a company for at least 12 months] increases from 0 paid days to 5 days paid leave

Employees who have been employed for fewer than 12 months are entitled to unpaid maternity leave of 13 weeks

As a mother, I know first-hand that the period of time of recovery and bonding with your baby after giving birth is critical. Along with the need to recover physically, the stress of returning to work too soon after birth can worsen conditions such as Post-Partum depression and anxiety.

This expansion of maternity leave will allow mothers more time to prepare to arrange appropriate childcare and return to work confident that their baby is in trustworthy hands.

Despite the negative stereotypes surrounding fathers in Bermuda, many fathers are loving, caring and involved in and supportive of the lives of their children.

Paternity leave will not only help ensure that the father has an opportunity to bond with their new child but also to provide love and support to their partner, enable them to get used to the responsibilities of fatherhood and their new role, while also providing well-needed breaks for mothers.

Throughout our history, the PLP has been at the forefront of expanding rights, benefits and protection for workers. We believe that the needs of Bermuda’s employees are equally as important as the capacity for Bermuda’s employers to make a profit.

Workers that don’t have to worry about their new-born children and who have time to spend and bond with their children will likely return to their places of employment, focused, energized and ready to work.

The expansion of paid maternity leave by 5 weeks and the introduction of paid paternity leave are in line with what we have fought for and what we have stood for since our Party was first founded. Strengthening and supporting Bermudian families is part of what we mean by building a better, fairer Bermuda.

- Tinee Furbert

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Comments (11)

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  1. Wayne Wonders says:

    Out of curiosity, what about the fathers who have full and legal custody of their children (and there are a good proportion)?

    Was any consideration given in this regard when he would have to take time off work due to the illness of his child/children?

    It is REALLY time for the Courts and legislative powers that be to put the children back in their father’s lives through an honest visitation between the Courts and child advocacy agencies.

    Five days paternity leave for a father with 1 or more children could be given a consideration of perhaps ten days so that we can “use the trust you have placed in us to improve the lives of our Bermudian families”.

    Paternity leave will not only help ensure that the father has an opportunity to bond with their child but also to provide love and support in regard to doctors visits, school meetings and the like. It will also enable them to get used to the responsibilities of fatherhood being in care and control of that child.

    • A lil Reparation dedicated those women over de years who after giving birth had to get right back to work on de plantation and doing domestic chores without compensation while making sure de privileged household was in order.

  2. Joe Bloggs says:

    “The expansion of paid maternity leave by 5 weeks and the introduction of paid paternity leave are in line with what we have fought for and what we have stood for since our Party was first founded.”

    Fair enough.

    What continues to concern me is thelack of any assessment of the cost of expanding workers’ rights to the detriment of business owners. I am not so much concerned about exempt companies as I am about Arnold’s Market or C Mart or Garden Market or Speciality Inn. Small businesses in Bermuda rely on young people. Government knows the payroll of these business. It would not be difficult to take a sample group and assess the cost implications for businesses of various sizes. But for some reason the PLP Government refuses to consider the cost implications to small businesses in Bermuda and that worries me.

  3. Guy Carri says:

    Expanding the rights that don’t cost the gov a dime. The already suffering, high cost of business get another increase. PLP is great at increasing costs.

    What does this do? Make hiring child bearing women less attractive than males. That is a fact that business owners cannot openly share.

    YES parents need more time with their children, especially newborns. Gov thinks it’s a great idea because they don’t have to pay! Many countries have longer mat leave but THE GOV pays that leave!!! In Bermuda it’s the employer. You cannot compare.

    PLP – reduce your own costs! Make doing business more attractive. Pat mat leave for a year.

  4. Bermudian says:

    This government is making it very hard for business owners to remain open. Its unfair that the government can simply approve a law and the business owner HAS to abide by it. First of all, the employer should not be made to keep paying extra for the employee. When is government going to look out for the business owner who is trying to keep Bermudians employed but can’t due to high taxes and all of these extras that come at the cost of the employer? Everything has its limit, hopefully the PLP doesn’t push it that far. Can government afford to take care of the population that will be let go due to the cost of doing business?

  5. smallbusinessishardinbda says:

    Is the Govt going to subsidize small businesses who employ females only. Small businesses are struggling as it is and this is an additional burden to them. Cash based businesses cannot afford to pay someone for 13 weeks and bring in a replacement for the same 13 weeks. What is the Govt going to do to help these businesses. We cannot just share the work – do more with less. What is the Govt going to do to help small businesses?

  6. Concerned Bermudian says:

    I agree with the other comments, this would be amazing if the government was at least helping to pay for this. Smaller businesses in Bermuda are already struggling severely to survive. This is only going to contribute to many businesses going under. PLP you are all talk, with no actual action in helping us to keep from drowning.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      Government cannot even afford to assess the cost implications of this move, much less meet those cost implications. That is why there has been no economic assessment.

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