Nigerian government approves paternity leave for workers

THE Nigerian government has, again, announced a two-week paternity leave for workers.

Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Folasade Yemi-Esan, announced the approval of the paternity leave on Monday, November 27, in a circular with ref no: HCSF/SPSO/ODD/NCE/RR/650309/3.

The circular was dated 25th November 2022 and titled, ‘Computation of Leave Based on Working Days and Approval of Paternity Leave in the Public Service’.

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According to the circular, a male worker whose wife gives birth to a new baby will be entitled to the leave.

Similarly, a male worker whose family adopts a child under four months will be entitled to the leave.

Workers can only enjoy the leave once in two years for a maximum of four children.

Yemi-Esan said the approval was in tandem with the provisions of the Public Service Rules, 2021 Edition.

For any worker to enjoy the leave, the request for approval will be accompanied by the Expected Date of Delivery (EDD) report of their expected babies.

Those who adopt a child will come with the approval of the child’s adoption by a relevant government agency.

The ICIR reports that the Federal Government increased maternity leave for its female workers in 2018 from 12 to 16 weeks.

This newspaper reported how the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) canvassed for paid paternity and maternity leaves globally to enable couples to bond better with their new children.

When parents take time off work to look after their newborn, the child has more chances to survive, feeds more on the mother’s breastmilk and bonds with the parents better, UNICEF and WHO stated

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved a 14-day paternity leave for men in the federal civil service in September.

The approval followed a similar declaration by the Federal Government in 2021, while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council Meeting on September 29, 2021.

States with paternity leave in Nigeria

The Lagos State government had in 2014 approved ten days of paternity leave.

Similarly, Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had in 2015 approved three weeks paternity leave for the state civil servants.

In 2020, Governor Seyi Makinde promised to approve paternity leave when he approved six months’ leave for mothers. The ICIR could not confirm if the men got the leave as of the time of filing this report.

Parternity leave in Africa

If the declaration is effective this time, Nigeria will join Kenya, Mauritius and a few other African countries that have allowed men engaged by the government to support their wives at home after giving birth.

Multiple news platforms report that Kenya, Mauritius, Gabon, Cameroun, Chad, Ivory Coast, Madagascar and Togo have paternity leave for married men.

Kenya approved two weeks, but the employer must recognize the wife. 

Mauritius gives five successive working days of leave.

Paternity leave in the remaining countries is covered in family allowance leave or what is considered ‘family events concerning the worker’s home.’ Married men in these countries can take up to ten days of paid leave.

    In Ethiopia, married men can take up to unpaid five-day leave.

    South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the amended Labour Relation and Labour Amendment Act in November 2018, enabling married men to proceed on a ten-day unpaid leave. The law, however, came into effect in November 2019.

    The World Atlas shows that countries with the longest-paid paternity leave are South Korea (52.6 weeks), Japan (52 weeks), France (28 weeks), Luxembourg (26.4 weeks), Netherlands (26.4), Portugal (21.3), Belgium (19.3), Norway (14 weeks), Iceland (13 weeks), Sweden 10 weeks) 

    “A year’s worth of paid paternity leave ensures ample development of the child physically and mentally before their fathers return to work,” the World Atlas says of South Korea.

    Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's The ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022 and has been the organisation's News Editor since September 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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