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House committee discusses upping maternity leave to one year

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Mothers would be able to extend their maternity leave without pay for up to 12 months without risking losing their job according to a bill proposal submitted at the house labour committee on Tuesday.

Leader of the Green Party Charalambos Theopemptou submitted the draft proposal that would allow women to take additional maternity leave than that currently provided by law, provided this period is less than 52 weeks.

A second bill was also tabled so the extended leave does not carry an additional cost for the state following concerns about the social security fund, Theopemptou said.

Paid maternity leave in Cyprus is for 18 weeks, while it has recently been increased to 22 weeks from 18 weeks for the second child, and to 26 weeks for the third (or subsequent) child, including for adoption or surrogacy.

We have abandoned young couples,” the leader of the Green party said, explaining the state failed to provide day care so young families end up turning to their parents to look after their children.

The need to create state nurseries or support to couples with day care was highlighted by Edek MP Andreas Apostolou as well as Elam MP Soteris Ioannou.

The proposal is “in the right direction” but additional discussions are needed with the labour advisory board, the chairman of the committee Andreas Kafkalias said during the meeting.

Thus, he said, it was concluded that more space and time should be given to develop the debate and these would be resubmitted for discussion in one or two months.

The labour advisory board is a tripartite body of social dialogue involved in industrial relations as well as other matters relating to labour and employment.

Ruling Disy MP Fotini Tsiridou said the state has taken several measures to help young parents, while she referred to the tabling of a bill which will be submitted in August and will provide 18 weeks paid parental leave. The decision will concern all parents with a child of up to eight years, she said.

In a different debate, some MPs wanted to expand paternity leave to 52 weeks as well, but the idea was rejected outright by Labour Minister Zeta Emilianides who said it would pose a series of constitutional proposals if adopted, and risk getting dragged out in litigation before the supreme court.

To date, fathers can apply for paternity leave within a 16-week window which is expected to be increased to 26.

 

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