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Asian paternity leave policy leads to local debate on maternity leave

by , 21 January 2013
Maternity leave is often a complicated issue, as employers offer different amounts of leave and some don't even pay for this time off. New mothers then go back to work too early and struggle to maintain their work-life balance. Things are changing in Asia, where a paternity leave policy has just been implemented. Here's how South Africa would benefit if the DoL implements a similar policy for new fathers.

Singapore's new fathers to children born on or after 1 May this year will be entitled to one week of government-paid paternity leave, to be taken within 16 weeks from the birth of their child, Singapore's Straits Times reports.
New mothers can also share with fathers one week of their government-paid maternity leave.
'We recognise that working parents need more support to manage their work and family responsibilities. The Civil Service's early implementation of the initiatives from 1 January 2013 reflects our commitment to helping officers achieve better work-life harmony,' said Han Neng Hsiu, Senior Director, Rewards and Recognition, Public Service Division of Singapore's Prime Minister's Office In the official press release posted on Asia One.
This is stirring interest locally, as there's been a call for debate on maternity leave in South Africa, and how much paid time off work employers grant new mothers.
Will the Department of Labour now follow Asia's example and propose paternity leave? Could new fathers get paid time off too?
Only time will tell. For now, Ndivhuwo Manyonga, deputy CEO at Aon Hewitt South Africa, says that the options for maternity leave vary hugely in South Africa, with employers offering different amounts of maternity leave or not paying them for it. This is reported on HR Pulse.
Here's why we need firmer policies on maternity leave, and to consider offering paternity leave
Pregnant workers are entitled to at least four consecutive months of maternity leave, according to the Department of Labour.
'The South African situation is such that in most instances, new mothers come back to work sooner than six months after the baby is born and then struggle with the issue of breastfeeding for a number of reasons…', adds Manyonga.
Implementing a paternity leave policy would certainly improve the work-life balance of new mothers as they'd have extra help at home in those first few weeks.

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