Paternity leave: Reform for 20 days is moving slowly… but not so sure

The Labor Commissions of both chambers of the Congress of the Union have the opinions ready to expand the paternity leave from five to 20 days, however, they have not reached the consensus to reach discussion in plenary. There are many reasons to support this decision, “we need to share co-responsibility for care,” says Sunny Villa, from the Center for Economic and Budgetary Research (CIEP).

But before thinking about this proposal moving forward, there is a question, answers the business labor activist Jorge Sales Boyoli: “With charge to whose portfolio will this change be made?” He does not mean that “the paternity leave in itself is unfair or inadequate”, he clarifies, “but as a country we must discuss it” beforehand.

In Latin America “only half of the economies guarantee by law a form of paid paternity leave,” says the World Bank (WB). Mexico is one of them, with just five days, but if a reform to articles 132 of the Federal Labor Law (LFT) and 28 bis of the Federal Law of State Service Workers are approved, it would be 20 days with pay. , or 30 if the birth complicates the health of the mother or the baby.

In this country there are more 21.2 million parents over 15 years old, “that is, 47% of the total number of men in that age group,” according to the 2020 Population and Housing Census. 94% were married or living in a free union. However, women take care of 73% of the housework and care work while they barely 27%, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi).

The covid-19 pandemic exposed “even more these inequalities in the distribution of care work. Women have continued to take on the lion’s share” around the world during the pandemic, report says State of fatherhood in the worldprepared by the Promundo organization.

The opinions approved They include, in the case of the Lower House, the proposals that the deputies Lilia Aguilar (PT) and Berenice Montes (PAN) presented separately. In the Senate, those of legislators Napoleón Gómez Urrutia (Morena), Patricia Mercado (MC), Martha Cecilia Márquez (PAN), Nancy de la Sierra (Plural), Josefina Vázquez Mota (PAN), Claudia Ruiz Massieu (PRI) and Ovidio Salvado Peralta (Morena).

Faced with problems as serious as the disappearance of women and femicides, involve parents in care It is necessary, said the deputy Margarita García (PT) when giving her vote in favor of the project in commissions of San Lázaro.

Talking about paternity leave is also talking about women and mothers. The pandemic increased unpaid care work, increased domestic violence, unemployment, and stress for economic reasons, all of which “has harmed the mental health of the population, in particular, of women,” says the Promundo report. That is why men should be involved in care, points out

In the Senate of the Republic, the opinion approved by the Labor Commission reached the plenary session and was scheduled for discussion last December, however, the project was removed from the agenda due to the lack of consensus around the mechanism to implement the new paternity leave.

Who pays for the licences?

“Having 20 days is gain. Although those of us who are mothers know that yes, the first 20 days are among the most difficult, but they do not end there. It is a good start to have a more even floor and for the insertion of women to the labor market, but there is still a way to go such as finding financing”, says Sunny Villa, director of operations and institutional strengthening of the CIEP.

The question of who would take the cost of licenses It has been raised “in public and in private” with Manuel Baldenebro, president of the Labor Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, but he has not responded, says Jorge Sales Boyoli, a shareholder in Littler Mendelson, a transnational labor litigation firm, in an interview. .

For Sunny Villa, the discussion must start from the “value of caring for life”. Beyond the monetary, “it is betting on the development of girls and boys, of humanity itself.” Then, “recognizing unpaid domestic work within the economy, that is a great debt. If we recognized it, we would already have where to pay for those 20 days.”

In 2020, the economic value of domestic and care work was 6.4 billion pesos, the equivalent of 28% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and two thirds were contributed by women, according to Inegi. A year earlier, in 2019, it was 5.6 billion pesos, 23% of GDP.

But Sales Boyoli points out that “it is not fortunate” to pose a paternity leave “without consulting the business sector, when it is surely the one that is going to pay for it, because it is leave, not disability.” The Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) considers the time before and after childbirth as disability and that is how it pays for it.

“The problem is that in the Federal Expenditure Budget (PEF) we do have maternity insurance, but not paternity insurance. We do not have paternity insurance and, once again, this would have to be a shared responsibility and not just the responsibility of one of the parties’ pockets”, says Sunny Villa, a specialist in sectoral public spending and care economics.

It’s not a matter of magic

However, having paid leave laws it does not mean that men will make use of the permit, warns the World Bank. “In some Nordic countries, even when men are eligible, only 40% use parental leave and the proportion reaches as low as 2% in countries like the Czech Republic or Poland.”

The discussion on this topic is still wide-ranging, says Sunny Villa. But “we must be open to discuss it, to make visible the need to make people jointly responsible and the value that is generated with it”, they have to participate in this governments, companies and society, He says. What sustaining life implies “is not something that exists by magic, it is work that should be paid, recognized and redistributed”.

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