Paternity Leave Policy in Nigeria

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On the 25th day of November, 2022, the Nigerian Government announced via a circular with ref no: HCSF/SPSO/ODD/NCE/RR/650309/3 the approval of paternity leave which is 14-days for civil servants.


The leave shall not be more than once in two years, and for maximum of four children. The leave is for serving male officers whose spouse delivers a baby. The leave was to commence for all federal civil servants on the 25th day of November, 2022 which was in line with the provisions of the Public Service Rules, 2021 Edition.

Also, where the family of a male officer adopts a child under four months old, the officer will similarly enjoy Paternity leave for a period of 14 working days. The request for such leave shall be accompanied by the Expected Date of Delivery’s report of the officer’s wife or evidence of approval of the adoption of the child by the relevant government bodies.

The Federal Executive Council in September this year approved a 14-day paternity leave for men in the federal civil service, to make men properly bond with their newborn baby or adopted one.

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The above development is a new one and it has been included for civil servants. The question here is, will the private sector also include paternity leave in its policy? Or what’s the position of the labour act regarding paternity leave in Nigeria?

Section 54 of the Labour Act provides that female workers are entitled to 12 weeks i.e. 4 months of maternity leave. This covers pre & post maternity periods. Out of this 12 weeks, 6 weeks leave is taken after delivery.

Furthermore, there’s a proviso for extension; “Maternity leave can be extended in case of illness, certified by the registered medical practitioner, that arises out of pregnancy or confinement and makes her unfit for work.” If employers were going by this, women would return to work barely two months after delivery. Women try to circumvent this by working until their delivery date is close so they won’t have to come back after two months. Women on maternity leave are not entitled to their full salaries according to the Labour Act but half salaries.

In Conclusion, the Labour Act needs to be amended and made in tandem with the provisions of the Public Service Rules for more equitable laws on maternity and paternity leave so that the law would be applicable to both private and public sectors.

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