Father's right to paternity leave | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 07, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:39 AM, July 07, 2015

Writing For Equality

Father's right to paternity leave

A mother usually bears the main responsibility of childcare work in family life. Father's has also duty to take care of both mother and child. Father plays a crucial role in the development of their children. The latest research indicates that fathers who are actively involved in raising their children can make a positive and lasting difference in their lives. So father has also responsibility of childcare parallel to mother. If a woman employee becomes pregnant while in employment, she is entitled to take maternity leave. Under Article 4(1) of Maternity Protection Convention, 2000, ensure the period of maternity leave of not less than 14 weeks. Rule 197(1) of the Bangladesh Service Rules (as amended 9 January 2011) provides for female Government servants six months and the Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006 section 46, provides for a female workers 16 weeks maternity leave. Though paternity leave is not a new concept but Bangladesh has no paternity leave opportunity for its male employees or workers.

To take care of a child and also mother, employee father needs paternity leave while in employment. This engagement has positive long-term effects for both father and child. Paternity leave is generally available to fathers only, usually to be taken soon after the birth of a child, and intended to enable the father to spend time with his partner, new child and older children. In 1974, Sweden became the first country in the world to offer fathers the statutory right of taking paid leave from work to be with their families after childbirth and adoption. According to ILO report 2014, approximately 70 countries offer paid leave for fathers in the form of paternity leave or shared parental leave. Also a few progressive companies offer new dads paid time off ranging from a few days to a few weeks like Microsoft gives 2 weeks paid leave and Google India for 10 days.

In UK fathers gained the right to paid paternity leave in 2003. Recent legislation has set the dramatic change in fathers' rights to parental leave. By the new law, mothers and fathers will be able to share up to 50 weeks of parental leave. The rule will also apply to couples who adopt a child. The new law says, "Eligible couples whose child is due on or after April 5, 2015 can now share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay in the first year of their child's life. Parents can take the time off at the same time as each other or separately. "Under Central Civil Service (Leave) Rules, 1972, Rule 43-A, India made provisions for paternity leave for male government employee with less than two surviving children for a period of 15 days to take care of his wife and new born child. For paternity leave he shall be paid leave salary equal to the pay last drawn immediately before proceeding on leave. New Zealand also has Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act, 1987; section 17 ensures the employee to partners/paternity leave. 

Children have been described as our future, our greatest resource, and our hope for a better tomorrow. It is duty of parents to rear their children as a good citizen of a state and at the same time state cannot ignore this duty. Now modern welfare states are taking responsibility of a child. Bangladesh is a progressive, democratic and welfare state in the world and it has so many dynamic laws for the wellbeing of countrymen. Though Bangladesh government is not constitutionally bound for rearing child's mental growth and physical evolution but for the greater good state should regard its duty.

Like other states Bangladesh should welcome the Paternity leave law for the wellbeing of child as well as mother. For proper growing of a child needs the active participation of both mother and father. Beside the mother, a child also needs father so it is high time for the Government of Bangladesh to put attention on enactingPaternity leave law for the male employees and workers. Government can enact Paternity leave law or shared parental leave law for both male and female employees and workers and it would be better for child as well as for the state.

 

The writer is pursuing LL.M. at Faculty of Legal Studies, South Asian University, New Delhi. 

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