Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Paternity leave bill poised for supreme court scrutiny

The House plenum voted on Wednesday against President Nicos Anstasiades’ referral back to parliament of a bill to grant paternity leave and benefits to unmarried couples.

Twenty-nine MPs voted against the bill, while 15 voted in favour and one MP abstained.

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

Following Wednesday’s vote, the bill will now go back to the president and if he again refuses to sign it, it will go to the supreme court for a final decision.

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 unmarried 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’.

Wednesday’s outcome had been expected. On Tuesday, Akel MP and chairman of the House labour committee Andreas Fakondis said his party would reject the president’s referral while ruling Disy said they would back the president’s move.

Fakondis had 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.