Along with mothers, fathers' share of parenting is increasing these days. Sometimes, fathers have to take care of not only mother and the newborn but also older children in the family. Getting support from other family members in caring the newborn is getting limited day by day, especially when a family lives in a busy city like Dhaka. So, to take care of a newborn and also mother, a working father needs paternity leave for a period of at least one month with full pay and allowances.
The concept of paternity leave is quite new in Bangladesh. As a result, there is hardly any organisation in the country, which provides its male employees with paternity leave. Most of our organisations allow their female workers six-month paid leave during and after childbirth. However, male workers are not entitled to this facility. It looks like that they do not need time off to care for their partner, newborn and older children. We must not forget that many of our urban homes do not have any helping hand. In most cases, new fathers have to take care of the entire family. In this case, it is their right to have a paternity leave. It is a good piece of news that the Rabindra University in Sirajganj has recently become the first educational institution in the country to introduce paternity leave. Some NGOs (non-government organisations) such as BRAC have been providing one month paid paternity leave to their male employees too. This is definitely praiseworthy.
In 1974, Sweden became the first country in the world to offer fathers the legal right to paid leave from work to be with their families after childbirth. According to an ILO report, approximately 70 countries offer paid leave for fathers in the form of paternity leave or shared parental leave. However, paternity leave is still an alien concept for most organisations in Bangladesh. We hope this necessary leave will be normalised one day in our country.
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