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Proud father Dwayne Colquhoun, who is among the first to benefit from the Government’s paternity leave provision, is encouraging more dads to take advantage of the opportunity to bond with their newborns while offering support to the mother.
“As the child’s father, you want to experience the different stages of their development… the first coo, laugh, the changes in how they look; you don’t want to miss any moment in their lives,” he tells JIS News.
“Those are special moments, and you just want to be there to capture them, sometimes before your partner, so you can brag and boast,” he laughs.
Paternity leave for fathers of newborns and family leave for adoptive parents bringing a new child into the home came into effect on January 1, 2023.
The entitlement allows fathers to claim up to 20 working days’ leave with pay anytime within the first six months of the child’s birth.
Mr. Colquhoun, who is a Database Administrator at the Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA) and his wife, welcomed their bouncing baby girl in October 2022. They are already parents to a six-year-old boy.
The second-time father commends the Government for introducing the leave benefit.
He says that as parenting evolves in the modern society, men are being called upon to play a greater role.
“I think we are in a society now where things are a bit more different. I don’t think we have only the mothers staying home but both parents are working, and it reaches a stage where you can’t put all of that pressure on just one parent,” he says.
Mr. Colquhoun points out that from the moment of conception, throughout the pregnancy and afterwards, the father’s role is just as integral as the mother’s.
He notes that being present in those weeks and months after birth is important in bonding with the child.
“It’s really important for you to be there, and trust me, they (the babies) know you. Even before birth, they can hear your voice, after birth, they can see and hear you and they know you,” he says.
Mr. Colquhoun notes that fathers have the opportunity to relieve the mother from feeding duties at night.
“She’s (his daughter) on a schedule with her feeding, which is every three hours. It’s very important for the fathers to take up that role and help the mothers because there are times when the mom might need a break [and] that’s where the bonding comes in,” he points out.
Fathers who wish to apply are required to submit the child’s registration paper to the respective Human Resources Department as proof.
The paternity leave entitlement is part of measures coming out of the current public-sector compensation review.
The review is intended to overhaul the structure of salaries and other emoluments in the public service.