The member of Parliament (MP) for Madina, Francis-Xavier Sosu (Esq), has initiated a Bill titled Labour (Amendment) Bill, 2023, to amend Section 57(1) of the Labour Act to extend the period of maternity leave from 12weeks to 16weeks (3months to 4months) with option for additional 2weeks in the case of caesarean, stillbirth(s) or multiple births, and to provide for related matters.
The Madina Legislator is also seeking an amendment to Section 20 of the Labour Act to introduce paternity leave for a minimum period of 7days and maximum period of 4weeks with option for additional two weeks in the case of caesarean, stillbirth(s) or multiple delivery of spouse.
According to Hon. Sosu, maternity and paternity leave are important for both parents to have the opportunity to welcome and bond with the newest member of the family. While maternity leave is mandatory in Ghana, paternity leave tends to be forgotten.
“The father of the child at times is locked out of this exciting and important moment and the only chance he has is after working hours when he is already tired and exhausted.
As such, the exclusion and silence of the law in regards to paternity leave is unfair and a clear indication of discrimination against men considering that fathers would also like to have a chance to familiarize themselves with the changes a newborn brings to a home.”
Globally, countries which offer paid paternity leave include Canada – 5 weeks at 55 percent pay, Estonia – 4.2 weeks at 100 percent pay, France – 16 weeks at 100 percent pay, Iceland – 26 weeks at 80 percent pay, Japan – one year at 67 percent pay for the first 180 days and 50 percent for the remainder, Lithuania – 4.2 weeks at 77.58 percent pay, Norway – 15 weeks at 100 percent pay or 19 weeks at 80 percent pay, Slovenia – 22.9 weeks at 100 percent pay, Spain – 16 weeks at 100 percent pay, and Sweden – 34.2 weeks at 80 percent pay, among others.
Furthermore, recent studies conducted by McKinsey-McGrill University research on paternity leave (2020) shows that men who took paternity leave viewed it overwhelmingly as a positive experience as 100% were glad they took the leave and would do so again; 90% noticed an improvement in their relationship with their partner; and 20% felt that the risk of a career setback was the main downside but that the benefits outweighed that worry. In the end, one in four of the fathers wished that they had longer paid paternity leave.
Hon. Sosu also noted that the decision to extend maternal leave was to ensure adequate breastfeeding by lactating mothers, and as a result of the absence of specific provisions in the Ghana Labour Law that addresses or offers support for women grappling with the loss of pregnancy or babies, hence, the need for laws or legislative regime that extend compassionate support to women during their times of vulnerability.
The initiation of the Labour (Amendment) Bill, 2023, brings to fourteen the total number of Private Member’s Bills initiated by the Madina MP.
Some of these Bills sought among other things to substitute life imprisonment for the death penalty; proscribe witchcraft accusations; remove taxes on sanitary pads; review legal education and redefine the functions of the General Legal Council (GLC); ensure five percent minimum employment of persons with disabilities (PWDs); ensure compensation for victims of unlawful arrest, incarceration and detention; and provide NHIS coverage for mental health patients, and victims of sexual violation; among others.