On Thursday, 18th of January 2017, almost every news platform was buzzing with the news of Access Bank Plc’s approval of paternity leave for its male employees. This one-week fully paid paternity leave to male employees is to improve the privileges for their staff members.
“Starting January 2018, male employees of Access Bank can take advantage of an enhanced parental leave policy that extends paid benefits to all mothers and fathers,” Access Bank said in a statement.
Unfortunately, the Nigerian Labour Act does not recognize paternity leave and makes no such provisions. However, with the clamour of inclusivity and employee privileges some organizations and government agencies are giving their male employees paternity leave. For instance in Lagos State, civil servants are entitled to 10 days’ paternity leave within the first 2 months of the birth of the baby. Some private organizations like Jobberman and Checki give their employees three days paternity leave while others don’t give at all. Microsoft Nigeria gives six weeks and Maersk Group gives its employees one week. Surprisingly, some organizations claim to give their male staff a couple of days leave to be with their wives and newborn and still deduct it from the annual leave of the employee yet they call it paternity leave.
Do Nigerian Men really need paternity leave
The paternity leave policy in Nigeria is long over-due. While men in other parts of the world have been enjoying this for quite some time, Nigerian men hardly have access to this. Some African countries are already making headway with this policy-Kenya offers two weeks and French-speaking West Africa–Chad, Cameroon, Gabon and Cote d’Ivoire give 10 days.
Giving male employees Paternity leave would enable fathers bond with their new babies as well as enhance family values. This period is also a short period of leave for the father immediately following childbirth. It also enables fathers assist mothers to recover from childbirth, which is also crucial in establishing breastfeeding, take care of the newborn, attend to the registration of the birth and other family-related responsibilities.
This means that the government needs to develop adequate policies that will allow a better work-life balance and provide a means for both women and men to properly attend to family responsibilities.
Once there is work-life balance, employees would be happy and this would lead to improved productivity and the company’s profitability. This, in turn, contributes to the country’s economic growth.
However, people are questioning if paternity leave will work in Nigeria. Some women have also questioned this policy by asking if men will agree to change diapers and cook and make the home tidy while their wives rest their tired bodies?