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Labour Minister talks up new social benefits package

Speaking on CyBC on Friday morning, Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou expanded on the recently proposed bills approved by the cabinet regarding social benefits which will introduce paternity leave to Cyprus for the first time.

The Minister explained that the introduction of paternity leave was a step towards gender equality in the workplace. Fathers will now be entitled to two weeks paid paternity leave while new mothers are entitled to 18 weeks maternity leave on full pay. The proposed bill also entitles surrogate mothers to maternity leave.

Another important amendment permits mothers accompanying their newborns who are undergoing medical treatment abroad to claim the maternity grant.

“In order to get the grant you need to be living in Cyprus. This was a big mistake in the law and we received criticism from the Ombudsman over this,” explained the Minister.

“Beneficiaries entitled to the Minimum Guaranteed Income (MGI) and who are able to work, will be required to undergo a six-month training course in the public sector, semi-government organisations, NGO, charities etc,” said the Minister adding that those in the training programmes would receive a subsidy from European Social Fund to cover their additional costs.

We don’t want them to lose the MGI because of this subsidy,” said the Minister adding that these additional subsidies would not be considered as income and would therefore not affect the MGI.

Emilianidou explained that current legislation does not provide for men to receive a widower’s pension even if their wives had paid into the Social Security scheme.

“Studies have shown that in order for this to be achieved, Social Security contributions will need to be increased by an additional 0.8%, we don’t feel that this is the appropriate time to introduce such a measure,” argued Emilianidou.

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