Negotiators for public servants had agreed to disagree with their employer counterparts about the introduction of paternity leave for male employees.
This came to light during the negotiations on salary and conditions of service for the year 2015/16 earlier this month. According to the resolutions of negotiations, the parties agreed to defer some of the negotiable items, as they could not reach an agreement on the principles.
About the issue of paternity leave for male employees Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) secretary general, Tobokani Rari said the principle is that the mother of the child is confined.
“Who is going to be running around assisting her? There should be support by the father of the child,” said Rari. He said during the negotiations they proposed that the paternity leave be introduced for male employees.
“This is to allow fathers-to-be, to share the responsibility and to support the mother at the time of the birth of the child. This paid leave should be allowed up to two weeks for fathers on full pay and applicable to a maximum of three children,” he explained.
He further said this would be applicable to both married and non-married couples. The male employee would be required to produce proof of paternity in the form of a birth certificate for purposes of verification of accepted paternity. “The initiative will also incentivise the growth of the population,” he said.
Rari further disclosed that the issue of full salary during study leave was also discussed. They had proposed that employees going for study leave should remain on full pay.
“This has had financial repercussions on the beneficiaries due to the loss in earnings. Study leave, though fully appreciated, have become a debt trap that leads to financial embarrassment.” Another item that was deferred was the issue of payment of membership to professional bodies.
The trade union party negotiated that the Government Training Manual recognises the importance of professional bodies like ACCA, Institution of Engineers, BICA and Royal Institute of British Architects.
They proposed that part of the funds from the training levy be used to pay for membership to such professional bodies. “This is a noble incentive that will also boost professionalism and governance in the area of practice,” Rari said. They also proposed that scarce skill be reviewed and adjustments be made accordingly. The employees’s negotiators wanted all employees to be given a 13th month tax-free cheque in years where there have been no salary increment.