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A father on maternity leave

Law and family aspects of a child rearing leave for men

In the CIS countries it is traditionally assumed that it is the child’s mother who applies for a maternity leave. Under modern conditions, though, there may be a situation when it is the father who wants to take care of the baby, while the woman wishes to continue working. What is more, psychologists approve this practice. It is useful for all the family members, but how can a father get his child rearing leave?

This practice isn’t widely spread in Russia and some people aren’t even aware that a husband also has a lawful right to get a child rearing leave. However, it is true. And it is quite possible to get the leave. Truth to be told, the phrase “maternity leave” is only applicable to women. A man is unable to mother a child, so he isn’t entitled to a sick-leave for the last months of pregnancy and for recovery after childbirth ― that is what maternity leave implies. The common practice is to give mothers a two-month sick-leave after they leave a maternity hospital.

He will have to overcome a few bureaucratic hindrances, photo WEBHe will have to overcome a few bureaucratic hindrances, photo WEB

On the other hand, it’s quite possible for a man to get a child rearing leave. He will have to brace himself and overcome a few bureaucratic hindrances:

  1. Send an application to his employer.
  2. Attach a birth certificate of his newborn child.
  3. Submit a certificate from his wife’s job or education establishment which certifies that she isn’t currently on a child rearing leave and gets no associated allowance.

This set of papers is enough for a father to get a child rearing leave. You don’t have to worry that an employer can reject the application. As Article 256 of the Russian Labor Code states, a men (and any other family member as well) is entitled to do it. Naturally, a male on a child rearing leave will have exactly the same rights as a female. In other words, he won’t be sacked and he will receive an allowance while the term of the leave will be included into his record of service.

For a man, a child rearing leave will become a useful experience, photo WEBFor a man, a child rearing leave will become a useful experience, photo WEB

For a man, a child rearing leave will become a useful experience. Moreover, the help to his wife will be immense. It is a well-known fact that women tend to suffer from postnatal depression. Daily child rearing, sleep deficiency, routine and lack of new experiences can further exacerbate this regrettable condition. Alternatively, if she leaves for work after a two-month sick-leave, she can overcome the condition easier. 

In terms of family, there are several positive points of a man’s child rearing leave

  1. The man gets an opportunity to express his fatherly feelings without limits and thus to establish closer bonds with his baby. Moreover, it’s a pretext to have a respite from work ― which is also beneficial.
  2. The woman gets a chance to abandon her daily routine and to maintain her skills (especially, if her income is bigger than her husband’s). It will also let her have more free time to recover after the childbirth.

In the future, this “change” will foster the atmosphere of trust within the family – the man won’t be afraid of his child and the woman won’t turn into an exhausted housewife.

The most important things are willingness and mutual help, photo WEBThe most important things are willingness and mutual help, photo WEB

Naturally, our mental disposition requires some ponderous reasons for a man to stay at home with a child, while his wife earns money and feeds the family. The stereotype is opposite. But these reasons are easy to find:

  1. the husband’s desire to help a beloved woman and/or to spend more time with the child;
  2. the man is unemployed;
  3. the woman’s income is higher;
  4. the mother suffers from postnatal depression ― in this case it’s necessary to help the wife in order to prevent serious psychological problems.

The most important things are willingness and mutual help. Child rearing won’t bring inconveniences if you are willing to help each other and share the duties correctly. And it doesn’t matter who is on the legal leave. Love each other and your children!

Anastasia Angerer, Moscow, Russia