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Cyprus

House to vote on paternity leave, benefits for unmarried fathers

The House plenum will on Wednesday vote on whether it accepts or rejects the president’s referral of a bill that granted paternity leave and benefits to unmarried couples.

The bill – tabled by main opposition Akel – had passed by majority, but president Nicos Anastasiades refused to sign it and sent it back to parliament.

The president said the law breached articles 80 and 54 of the constitution.

Article 80.2. states that “No Bill relating to an increase in budgetary expenditure can be introduced by any Representative.”

The government says extending paternity leave to fathers would incur additional cost to the social insurance fund, and that these extra costs had not been budgeted.

Article 54 of the constitution states that only the executive branch of government has the power to direct ‘general policy.’

Should parliament refuse to accept the president’s referral, the matter would be litigated at the supreme court.

Akel MP and chairman of the House labour committee Andreas Fakondis said on Tuesday his party will reject the president’s referral.

Ruling Disy said they will back the president’s referral, while the other parties will reveal their positions during Wednesday’s plenary session.

Speaking to reporters, Fakondis said the bill aimed to end the discrimination against unmarried fathers, given that unmarried mothers receive maternity leave.

Akel argues that paternity should not be defined as the father being in a marriage or civil partnership, and that therefore excluding those who do not fall into these two categories from the right to paternity leave is discriminatory.

In the meantime Akel has tabled another bill that would grant a widow’s or widower’s pension to the spouses of civil servants or employees of semi-governmental organisations, including if the marriage occurred after the retirement of the government employee.

At present, the pension is granted to the spouses of deceased persons who were employed in the broader public sector only where the marriage took place prior to the deceased’s retirement.

Again, Akel argues that this is discriminatory.

Regarding marriages where a man weds a foreign woman, Akel proposes that the women be eligible for a widow’s pension only where the marriage lasted for at least five years to prevent abuse.

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