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Want Paternity Leave? Apply to Microsoft

Microsoft Nigeria has announced it will enhance leave benefits to give its workers adequate time to care for those who matter most to them, according to the PUNCH’s reports on Thursday.

The company’s new policy states that maternity leave will now be for 20 weeks paid at 100 percent, while paternity/parental leave will last for six weeks and will also be paid at 100 per cent.

The subject of parental leave has made headlines globally this year particularly after billionaire Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, took a paternity leave after the birth of his second child, August. The norm has always been that the mothers who put to bed get time off from work but with the increasing debates around the need for men/fathers to be part of domestic affairs, including the care of children, the push for paternity leave has began to gather more substance.

Microsoft appears to want to lead the way in this, even going beyond leave for the delivery of children but for care of other loved ones. A new care giver benefit leave benefit announced by the Country Manager, Akin Banuso, consists of “four weeks of paid leave at 100 per cent to take care of an immediate family member with a serious health condition”.

Paid leaves are not yet fully part of employer/employee contracts in Nigeria, particularly in the private sector there is usually the madness for the balancing of books at the end of the year, hence no time being spared for leaves. However, for better productivity, it cannot be underestimated the necessity of granting workers the avenue to attend to persons who are most precious to them outside of the work environment.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in September, called for six months paid maternity leave and four weeks paid paternity leave to become the normalized practice in Nigeria. The Lagos State public service has its current policy as six-month leave for mothers, for the first two deliveries, but paternity leave is only for 10 days. While it is an improvement from what existed before, it does not compare well with, for instance, Facebook’s new policy where employees get 20 days of paid leave to grieve the loss of an immediate family member and up to six weeks of paid time to take care of six relatives.

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