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Labour minister has serious reservations over paternity leave for single fathers

Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou

Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou said Tuesday she had serious reservations over an opposition proposal to extend paternity leave to single fathers who live with the mother of their child.

“I have serious reservations,” she told MPs during a discussion before the House labour committee. “If something happens to the man neither the woman nor the child will have any rights to his property.”

The proposal, submitted by Akel, extends the eligibility criteria to include fathers who live with the mother of their child but were not married or had entered a civil partnership.

The proposal provides for a sworn statement by both parents that they live under the same roof.

Emilianidou argued that the proposal would hurt the rights of women.

“There is the civil partnership, which affords inheritance rights and legal rights,” she said. “Why shouldn’t I give the woman the potential to have all the other rights? I am not in favour of promoting solutions against women.”

Committee chairman, Akel MP Andreas Fakondis said they were seeking to plug the small gap and the cost would not be high for the state.

The minister said she did not believe if would solve the problems of people living together, and the rights of women must also be safeguarded.

Emilianidou told MPs she would be preparing a memo with the additional issues that could be raised if the proposal ended up being approved by parliament.

In a previous discussion of the issue, the labour ministry argued that the law granting paternity leave, passed last year, was based on precise calculations of the cost of granting this benefit to couples who married in church, or had a civil marriage, or who have entered into a civil partnership.

To also entitle people who are unmarried, or not in a civil partnership would inflate the cost to the social insurance fund, the ministry said.

Moreover, experience from single-parent families has shown that it is difficult to check whether couples actually live together in order to assess whether the father is in fact part of the family and part of the process of raising the child.

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