Determined to tackle the stigma surrounding men taking time off for childcare responsibilities, Pepsi-Cola Jamaica is bridging the gender gap in parental leave with the implementation of its paternity leave policy.
According to a 2019 Early Childhood Development policy by UNICEF, a balanced family life typically provides three types of essential resources needed by parents and caregivers of young children: time, resources and services. To ensure children and their families attain and maintain lifelong health, mutual investment by business and the State is crucial during the early years of a child’s life.
Spearheaded by Pepsi-Cola Jamaica due to trends in its labour market and in response to the government of Jamaica’s paternity leave mandate; the new policy is designed to help employees benefit from both work and family life.
The modernised approach, which came into effect in February, comes as a relief to around 80 per cent of PepsiCola male employees.
Previously, PepsiCola had implemented a system that allowed employees to take half days, early Fridays, and personal days in some instances.
Under the policy, paternity leave will be granted to male members of staff who have newborn children, or recently adopted children under the age of 16. The leave allocation is for 20 working days.
Chantelle Richards, human resource manager, said that “providing paternity leave is a step towards creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace, as it helps to promote gender equality and removes the stigma surrounding men taking time off for childcare responsibilities. Also, it is a way to ensure that both mothers and fathers can take time off to care for their new child.”
At a macro level, the positive societal benefits of paternal leave policies include improved equitable, social and economic growth.
The impact of the implementation of the family-friendly policy is far-reaching.
“From an HR perspective, we believe the inclusion of a paternity leave policy will enhance our overall company culture creating a more supportive and family-friendly company culture which can improve the satisfaction and engagement of our employees. With paternity leave, new fathers on our team are less likely to take time off unexpectedly to deal with family responsibilities resulting in reduced absenteeism,” Richards said.
Research suggests that in managing income and stress, taking unpaid paternity leave may exacerbate financial challenges in households.
Richards continued, “when our team members are allowed to fully focus on their family responsibilities, their stress and level of distraction at work is reduced, thereby increasing our productivity.”
Thrilled at the opportunity to provide well-needed support for their families, male members of staff have been very receptive to the new benefit and are eager to learn more.
Bedard Badal, supply planner at Pepsi-Cola Jamaica, has already applied for the allowance.
He said: “I am sincerely grateful for the new paternity leave allowance offered by my company, as it solves multiple challenges that my family and I are facing. This benefit gives me the opportunity to spend time with my newborn and build a bond in his early days, that bond might not exist if I was at work all the time.
I also have the opportunity to assist my wife while her body heals, and we get accustomed to the new member of our family. All of this is being done in a stress-free mindset because I don’t have to worry about a lack of pay or a job after attending to the needs of my family.”
The paternity leave policy by Pepsi-Cola Jamaica is available to both contracted and part-time employees.