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No paternity leave for unmarried fathers

The Labour Ministry on Wednesday insisted it was not feasible to amend the law on paid paternity to include fathers who were not married to or in a civil union with their child’s mother.

The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Andreas Assiotis participated in the House Labour Committee on Wednesday as MPs considered a proposal by AKEL that all fathers be included.

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There have since two-weeks paid paternity leave was introduced on August 1 already been over 600 applications for the new subsidy and, according to Assiotis, opening the way to all fathers would create too much of a financial burden for the state.

The majority of MPs noted, however, than many couples in Cyprus today chose to wed after already starting a family with AKEL MP Skevi Koukouma suggesting fathers were being discriminated against and families suffering as a result.

Assiotis, however, said that mothers were given all the relevant subsidies whether they were married or not as they, as a rule, “are responsible for new-borns to a higher degree and more directly deal with the consequences of giving birth”.

He also noted that it was very difficult for a couple to prove they lived together giving the Guaranteed Minimum Income and single-parent family subsidy as examples.

Committee chairman Andreas Fakontis, however, said there were tools at the state’s disposal to confirmed whether or not a couple lived together and that these had been used to determine GMI eligibility and child subsidies. He accused the state of using double standards to save money.

DISY MP Andreas Kyprianou, however, supported Assiotis’ stance saying that AKEL’s proposal would “Open Pandora’s Box because it will be hard to prove couple cohabitation”.

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