Paternity leave is becoming more and more common in the recent world, as it has been shown to be beneficial for the whole family. According to the sources, fathers who take paternity leave play an equal role in the difficult first few weeks with a newborn and tend to stay more active in the child’s life as he or she grows up, which creates a more even distribution of the workload. In this case, mothers can well benefit, as they can participate in the workforce, without halting it to take care of the baby. However, the situation has not changed as yet.
In Sri Lanka, paternity leave is considered inconsequential, although maternity leave is given. In Sri Lanka, since 2018, every employed woman has been entitled to 84 paid working days of maternity leave and the Government has now provided additional tax benefits to businesses to support maternity leave. However, there are very limited provisions for fathers to receive paternity leave, with government employees entitled to just three working days, and private sector paternity leave decided on a company by company basis. Even the most progressive of the private companies follow the public sector and rarely offer more days of paternity leave.
Not only Sri Lanka, this issue lies in other countries as well, for instance like the USA. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), nearly 90 million children under the age of one live in countries where their fathers are not entitled by law to “a single day of paid paternity leave. However, countries that are pioneering in this concept include, Estonia, Finland, Denmark, Sweden etc. For instance, in Denmark, new moms get a total of 18 weeks of maternity leave: four weeks before the birth and 14 weeks after, all at full pay. During the 14-week period, the father can also take two consecutive weeks off. From that point on, parents can split 32 additional weeks of leave however they see fit. They can extend the leave for another 14 weeks if the child or parent gets sick. By law, the government covers 52 weeks of pay, though not always at the full salary.
Certainly, if many of the countries are opting for this change, they too have realized the consequent benefits of it; thus as a country where family support plays a major role, it is quite prudent if Sri Lanka, can opt for this change in a gradual manner. Embedded in the cultural values, it just seems appropriate that the father is given an uncomplicated way to engage with the upbringing of the children. Clearly, case studies show that paternity lays important groundwork in one’s relationship as well. It is said that children benefit from having both strong male and female presence in their lives and by creating a strong bond with the baby in that first month would be wonderful for the father. In families with highly-engaged fathers, children had significantly higher IQ scores at three years of age and less behavioral problems during the early school years. Furthermore, Interesting research also shows that men who are in regular contact with their newborn babies have a heightened awareness of the needs and moods of their children, which only increases the more time they spend with them.
Although it could be very mundane, it would be an enlightening experience for both the partners in building, strong distributed foundation for a lifelong parenting partnership. For instance, mothers can resume work once again, which would aid in her professional advancement, at the same time, lessening the economic impact of the leave. According to the power house Kasthuri Chellaraja Wilson, CEO of Hemas Holdings PLC, paternity leave should be implemented as it would assist in aiding working mothers in the evolving corporate world. Further, according to studies, by giving new fathers the chance to take an active role in the early days of having a baby, it would help to alleviate postpartum depression in mothers, thus promoting a greater sense of well-being. Postpartum depression has increasingly become common in the recent past than ever before. Obviously the birth of a baby can trigger a jumble of powerful emotions, from excitement, fear and anxiety – also it can lead to something deadly like depression, in a rather severe form. With the presence of the father in the house, the mother will have enough room to rest and rejuvenate while having a bit of time for herself as well and the husband can take care of her emotional well-being.
With the rapidly changing world, this would be the ideal time for Sri Lanka to change as well; it will do us no good to stay outdated, while a wide variety of avenues can be opened via a slight change.