Gov’t urged to fo­cus on pass­ing key labour laws in 2019

Roberts eyes sex­ual harass­ment, oc­cu­pa­tional safety, pa­ter­nity leave leg­is­la­tion

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS -

THE GOV­ERN­MENT is be­ing urged to use this year, which marks the cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tions of the In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­gan­i­sa­tion (ILO) and the 100th an­niver­sary of the pass­ing of the Trade Union Act, to speed up the pas­sage of leg­is­la­tion on sex­ual harass­ment and oc­cu­pa­tional safety and health.

In a re­lease, Danny Roberts, head of the Hugh Shearer Labour Stud­ies In­sti­tute, said that law­mak­ers should also pro­vide a statu­tory right to pa­ter­nity leave for Ja­maican men at the work­place.

Pa­ter­nity leave, de­fined as a job-pro­tected pe­riod of leave for em­ployed men, with in­come sup­port pro­vided in some cases, is a short pe­riod of leave for fa­thers fol­low­ing child­birth. The Gov­ern­ment late last year said it was em­bark­ing on a con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod around the de­vel­op­ment of a Pa­ter­nity Leave Act.

In his re­lease, Roberts said that the op­por­tu­nity should be used this year to re­view a num­ber of labour laws, in­clud­ing ma­ter­nity leave leg­is­la­tion, where ILO stan­dards now set the min­i­mum pe­riod at 14 weeks, and the Labour Re­la­tions Code, to strengthen the pro­ce­dural mea­sures rel­e­vant to dis­ci­plinary pro­ce­dures.

He noted that pa­ter­nity leave pro­vi­sions are be­com­ing more com­mon across the globe and re­flect evolv­ing views about the im­por­tance of fa­ther­hood in a child’s de­vel­op­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to the trade union­ist, en­shrin­ing a statu­tory right to paid pa­ter­nity leave by way of leg­is­la­tion would sig­nal the value the Gov­ern­ment places on the care work of women and men and would help to ad­vance gen­der equal­ity.

Over the past 20 years, 38 coun­tries have adopted pro­vi­sions re­lat­ing to pa­ter­nity leave.

Roberts said that both sex­ual harass­ment and oc­cu­pa­tional safety and health leg­is­la­tion have been in long pe­ri­ods of ges­ta­tion, and the need to have the pass­ing of laws and reg­u­la­tions to strengthen the frame­work for de­cent work and hu­man dig­nity would be “a fit­ting trib­ute to the early pi­o­neers of the strug­gles in 1919 to de­crim­i­nalise trade unions and grant work­ers the right to free­dom of as­so­ci­a­tion, and ul­ti­mately, the right to col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing”.

Roberts added that the key stake­hold­ers in pub­lic-sec­tor man­age­ment must own the trans­for­ma­tion process go­ing for­ward and ac­cel­er­ate the pace of pub­lic-sec­tor re­form.

He said that the tran­si­tional phase of the trans­for­ma­tion process is nec­es­sary to ef­fec­tively build on the early achieve­ments in the ar­eas of pol­icy re­form, re­vised pro­ce­dures and prac­tice, and tech­no­log­i­cal up­grades.

Roberts urged the Gov­ern­ment to pri­ori­tise the im­ple­men­ta­tion of in­clu­sive leg­is­la­tion and pol­icy frame­works for com­pre­hen­sive work-fam­ily poli­cies, with pro­vi­sion for ad­e­quate fis­cal space.


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