Male employees in Kenya could be entitled to a longer paternity leave after a petition was filed in court seeking an extension of leave days.
Currently, male employees are only entitled to two weeks of paternity leave with full pay.
But one Dr. Magare Gikenyi reckons that men should be allocated three months leave after childbirth, the same number of days as their female counterparts.
In the petition dated January 2, 2022, the Nakuru-based doctor argues that the vast difference in the number of leave days for women and men stipulated in the Employment Act (2007) is a clear act of discrimination against the latter.
“The differentiation/discrimination of duration of maternal and paternal leaves is not a fair differentiation. The matter being determined is not just mere discrimination of an individual employee, but it’s a large-scale discrimination which will have an impact on the number of employees in an organization,” Dr Magare said in court documents.
According to the medical practitioner, scientific research has shown that fathers play an equally important role as mothers during the first three months after childbirth, and as such, it is imperative that they are also granted the same number of leave days as their spouses.
“A systematic review by Rollè et Al entitled, Father Involvement and Cognitive Development in Early and Middle Childhood, shows clearly that a father has a role in childhood development and that the 1st few days of life are important for child development,” Magare Gikenyi said.
The medic noted that his petition is not seeking to have the maternity period shortened rather it is aimed at advocating for equality at the workplace.
Dr Gikenyi added that should the matter be addressed, it will prevent indirect discrimination of female employees on account of their perceived fertility issues and child care long maternity leave as opposed to shorter paternity leave especially during employment and redundancy.
“This matter is of Public interest and therefore it is imperative that this matter be placed before the court and orders and directions issued accordingly to preserve and safeguard public interests,” he submitted.
Justice Jacob Kageri ruled that the petition is not urgent and directed the Ministry of Labour and the Attorney General to respond within 21 days.
He similarly asked the parties involved to seek a hearing date at the Registry.