Rwandan MPs propose one-month paternity leave

Some lawmakers have proposed that paternity leave be increased from the current four days to 30 days, with a view to enable a father to give adequate care to the mother as well as bond with the newborn.

The lawmakers made the proposal on Tuesday, March 21, as the Lower House’ Committee on Social Affairs started scrutinising a bill that seeks to amend the 2018 law governing labor in Rwanda.

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Among other proposals, the bill provides for maternity leave, but without specifying its length. However, it proposes that an Order of the Minister in charge of labour determines the number of days for maternity and paternity leave.

MP Frank Habineza said that the four-day paternity leave was too small as “you realise that they often elapse when you are still at the health care facility” where the delivery took place.

“The father should get at least a month of paternity leave so that he takes care of his wife after giving birth. We see that this can be helpful.”

Habineza pointed out that enough paternity leave helps the father to foster the bond of love and affection with their child, and allows the father to have a greater role in raising and educating their child.

MP Annoncée Manirarora said: “The four days are few because, for a mother who has complications while giving birth, or gave birth to a premature baby, it is the husband who takes care of the wife [while the infant is put in an incubator]. So, I think the father will not be able to take care of the mother and the child in those four days.

“It would be helpful if this paternity leave should increase to at least two weeks or a month,” she said, pointing out that the first caregiver to a woman who suffers complications during delivery is her husband, normally.

The Ministry of Public Service and Labour says there are five more days that a father is entitled to in case of complications for their wife while giving birth — bringing the total to nine days. But lawmakers insisted that that such a number of days is still insufficient.

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The Minister of Public Service and Labour, Fanfan Kayirangwa Rwanyindo, told lawmakers that the current law regulating labour in Rwanda is not clear about paternity leave.

“Therefore, in this draft, it is proposed to highlight that paternity leave and maternity leave shall be determined by an order of the Minister in charge of Labour,” she said.

MP Gloriose Uwanyirigira wondered why the Government wants both the maternity and paternity leave to be determined by a Ministerial Order, not the actual law.

“I support that this (leave) should not be determined in the Order. As the representatives of the people, we should discuss it so that it is included in the law,” she said.

Currently, working mothers are entitled to a three-month leave, or 12 weeks, while it is four days for fathers.

“As we achieve development, and invest efforts in our social security system, we will be making improvements by increasing the number of days for maternity leave and paternity leave,” Minister Rwanyindo said.

In Uganda, fathers are entitled to paternity leave of not less than four working days, while fathers are allowed two weeks of paternity leave in Kenya with full pay.

In some developed countries, the situation is different. For example, in Sweden, both parents together receive 480 days’ parental benefit per child. In the case of multiple births, an additional 180 days are granted for each additional child.





Source: The New Times

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