On Paternity Leave In Lagos State

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LAGOS State Government’s new policy of granting male civil servants paternity leave like their female counterparts may seem strange to the Nigerian culture, even run against the general run of play, it is quite commendable and deserves the understanding of all who care about family. There is no denying the fact that many young mothers endure more than a fair share of hardship after childbirth as a result of lack of a helping hand.

It is, therefore, not out of place to grant their husbands leave to lend a helping hand, especially, in the first few days after child delivery.

Maternity leave is automatically granted to allow women recuperate and have some time to give adequate nursing care to the newborn baby. Even so, many women, especially the first-timers, have difficulty coping and as such, require additional hand, which is often best given by the husband, hence the need for the privilege of a paternity leave.

The policy is even made more appealing considering that in many instances, both man and his wife are working civil servants, a situation, which explains the policy’s   target: working couples.

Governor Babatunde Fashola’s approval, the other day, of a 10-day paternity leave for any male civil servant in the state whose wife delivers a new baby is, therefore, a step in the right direction and advertises his government as committed to the well-being of the family. By the same token, Fashola has increased the normal maternity leave from three months to six, to allow nursing mothers exclusively breast-feed their babies for that much period of time. The policy also aims to afford a couple the opportunity to attend to the developmental needs of the child together.

Male officers to whom a new baby is, or babies, in case of multiple birth, are born would be entitled to 10 working days of paternity leave in the first two deliveries. A female officer shall be entitled to 24 weeks’ maternity leave with full pay in case of her first two deliveries and the leave commences at least two weeks before the expected delivery date.

Thereafter, a third and subsequent deliveries shall only attract 12 weeks maternity leave for the female officer, while the male officer shall not be entitled to further paternity leave in that circumstance.

It is clear from the foregoing that the Lagos State Government has introduced something that sets it apart from others and has continued its well- established tradition of novelty in many aspects of human and economic development. The paternity leave policy has turned out to be unique and commendable.

However, granting women 24 weeks but only 10 days for men is a bit incongruous. That period is certainly not enough for the man to give the needed helping hand to his wife. It may be argued though that the granted period is better than not having anything at all and is a good starting point.

If well-planned, the man would be of immense assistance to his wife within the short time. Perhaps, it would also be better if the man could have his annual leave coincide with the expected delivery period of the wife in which case the additional period of time could truly be utilised to give a nursing wife emotional, physical and other supports.

Fears that maternity leave for mothers and paternity leave for fathers could lead to a baby boom in Lagos State are already being expressed but this does not remove from the nobility of this policy. In truth, vacation for couples is encouraged in other parts of the world with declining population, where people are being encouraged to have children. Though the situation is different in Nigeria where population is on the increase and government may be interested in curtailing it, the idea of a paternity leave cannot be defeated on this score.

Of course, the Lagos State Government should be strict with the policy as it applies to the men, especially with respect to enforcing its application to only the two first deliveries. Women having an extended six-month maternity leave to enable them give only breast milk to the new baby as recommended by the United Nations is certainly in order. The Lagos State government has done something novel and noble, it must, however, monitor the policy’s implementation thoroughly to ensure it achieves its desired end of strengthening the family, deepening family values and thereby building a better society.

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In : Lagos

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