OpEd: Maternity and Paternity Leave Reform

By Tinee Furbert, MP

In the Progressive Labour Party’s 2017 Election Platform, our party promised to extend paid maternity leave and introduce paid paternity leave. Recently, in the House of Assembly, I was proud to see that promised fulfilled with the passage of the Government's Employment (Maternity Leave Extension and Paternity Leave) Amendment Act 2019.

To us, the family is everything and whenever we can we will seek to use the trust you have placed in us to improve the lives of our Bermudian families.

Our reform of Maternity Leave and the introduction of Paternity Leave means:

Paid maternity leave (for a mother employed at a company for at least 12 months) increases from 8 weeks paid leave to 13 weeks paid leave

Paid paternity leave (for a father employed at a company for at least 12 months) increases from 0 paid days to 5 days paid leave

Employees who have been employed for fewer than 12 months are entitled to unpaid maternity leave of 13 weeks

As a mother, I know first-hand that the period of time of recovery and bonding with your baby after giving birth is critical. Along with the need to recover physically, the stress of returning to work too soon after birth can worsen conditions such as Post-Partum depression and anxiety.  This expansion of maternity leave will allow mothers more time to prepare to arrange appropriate childcare and return to work confident that their baby is in trustworthy hands.

Despite the negative stereotypes surrounding fathers in Bermuda, many fathers are loving, caring and involved in and supportive of the lives of their children.  Paternity leave will not only help ensure that the father has an opportunity to bond with their new child but also to provide love and support to their partner, enable them to get used to the responsibilities of fatherhood and their new role, while also providing well-needed breaks for mothers.

Throughout our history, the PLP has been at the forefront of expanding rights, benefits and protection for workers.  We believe that the needs of Bermuda's employees are equally as important as the capacity for Bermuda's employers to make a profit.  Workers that don't have to worry about their new-born children and who have time to spend and bond with their children will likely return to their places of employment, focused, energized and ready to work.

The expansion of paid maternity leave by 5 weeks and the introduction of paid paternity leave are in line with what we have fought for and what we have stood for since our Party was first founded.  Strengthening and supporting Bermudian families is part of what we mean by building a better, fairer Bermuda.