The government and lawmakers on Tuesday appeared to converge on a window of 26 weeks during which a father may apply for paternity leave.
Currently, fathers can apply for paternity leave within a 16-week window, but some MPs wanted to expand this to 52 weeks – an idea rejected outright by Labour Minister Zeta Emilianides.
She said this proposal would pose a series of constitutional proposals if adopted, and risk getting dragged out in litigation before the supreme court.
Emilianidou said the purpose of the bill under discussion was to evenly distribute the share of responsibility among mothers and fathers.
With the 52-week application window ruled out, main opposition Akel suggested an alternative of 26+2. MP Andreas Kafkalias argued that such an arrangement would allow fathers to apply for paternity leave after the expiry of the mother’s maternity leave, thus preventing a reduction in a household’s income as one of the two parents would return to work earning 100 per cent of their salary.
In the end, however, the proposal for a 26-week period for applying for paternity leave seemed to gain the most traction.
Maternity allowance is paid to natural mothers for a period of 18 weeks starting between the ninth and second weeks before the week of the expected birth.
Paternity allowance is paid to natural fathers for a period of two consecutive weeks between the week of confinement and the following 16 weeks, or between the week of confinement and the termination of maternity leave for the case of a multiple birth.
On a related issue, MPs also discussed government legislation on parental leave, which the labour ministry will table to parliament sometime in spring of 2022 – to meet a deadline for passage by August 2022.
Among the details discussed are in which cases parental rights would be transferrable – such as in the event of death of the mother at childbirth.
Emilianidou said she agreed with transferability. But she also cautioned that the legislation should be carefully worded so that the father does not lose any rights, for example widower’s benefit, because by law a person may not receive two different benefits simultaneously.
“I have already issued instructions to the Social Insurance Services, so that we can table the bill in its correct form. I welcome the initiative [regarding transferability], but give us some time in order to avoid creating more problems,” she told legislators.