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6 objectives behind Ghana's paternity and extended maternity leave, and progress so far

Ghana's Parliament is pushing for significant amendments to introduce paternity leave and extend maternity leave.

A bill has been submitted to Ghana’s Parliament to increase maternity leave and introduce paternity leave

Member of Parliament for Madina, Francis-Xavier Sosu of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), is sponsoring a private member’s bill seeking to extend maternity leave from three to four months. This bill, introduced in Parliament after submission to the Clerk-to-Parliament on October 6, 2023, also suggests an option for an additional two weeks of maternity leave in specific cases.

The proposed Labour (Amendment) Bill, 2023, also known as "Parental Leave for All," not only advocates for extended maternity leave but also aims to establish paid paternity leave for men, emphasizing the importance of family support during the postnatal period.

Maternity Leave Extension: The proposed amendment targets Section 57(1) of the Labour Act, seeking to extend maternity leave from the current 12 weeks to an expanded period of 16 weeks (equivalent to 4 months). The bill also includes provisions for an additional 2 weeks in cases of caesarean section, stillbirth(s), or multiple births.

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Introduction of Paternity Leave: Simultaneously, the bill proposes adjustments to Section 20 of the Labour Act, paving the way for the introduction of paternity leave. The suggested paternity leave would range from a minimum of 7 days to a maximum of 4 weeks, with the option for an extra two weeks in specific circumstances, such as caesarean delivery, stillbirth(s), or multiple births of the spouse.

Here are six key objectives behind these proposed changes and the current progress:

The foremost goal is to prioritize the health and well-being of mothers by extending maternity leave from the current 12 weeks to a more comprehensive 16 weeks. This extension aims to provide mothers with adequate time for recovery, bonding with their newborns, and exclusive breastfeeding.

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The introduction of paternity leave is designed to strengthen family bonds and support systems. By allowing fathers a minimum of 7 days and a maximum of 4 weeks of paternity leave, the Parliament seeks to actively involve fathers in caregiving responsibilities during the crucial postnatal period.

The proposed amendments offer flexibility in leave duration to accommodate specific circumstances. In cases of caesarean deliveries, stillbirth(s), or multiple births, both maternity and paternity leave can be extended by an additional two weeks, ensuring support during challenging situations.

The drive towards gender equality is evident in the proposed changes. By acknowledging the role of both parents in the postnatal period, the Parliament aims to break traditional stereotypes and encourage shared responsibilities in parenting.

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To ensure inclusivity and gather diverse perspectives, the Parliament has engaged various stakeholders in the decision-making process. Labor unions, government officials, and representatives from different sectors, including market women and the media, have been part of the ongoing deliberations.

The parliamentary journey towards these parental leave reforms has seen substantial progress. The tripartite committee, comprising representatives from labor unions, the National Labour Commission, and government officials, has concluded its work. The final draft is poised for submission to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, marking a crucial step towards potential cabinet and parliamentary approval.

As the proposed amendments align with global efforts to create supportive environments for new parents, Ghana's Parliament remains committed to achieving these objectives and fostering a more family-friendly and gender-inclusive society.

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